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Deterrence, Contagion, and Legitimacy in Anticorruption Policy Making: An Experimental Analysis

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  • Amadou Boly
  • Robert Gillanders
  • Topi Miettinen

Abstract

In our framed laboratory experiment, two public officials, A and B, make consecutive decisions regarding embezzlement from separate funds. Official B observes official A’s decisions before making his or her own. We find a contagion effect of embezzlement in that facing a corrupt official A increases the likelihood of embezzlement by official B. Likewise, deterrence matters in that higher detection probabilities significantly decrease the likelihood of embezzlement. Crucially, when the same deterrence policy applies to both officials, detection is more effective in curbing embezzlement if chosen by an honest public official A rather than a corrupt public official A. This legitimacy effect may help explain why anticorruption policies can fail in countries where the government is believed (or known) to be corrupt.

Suggested Citation

  • Amadou Boly & Robert Gillanders & Topi Miettinen, 2019. "Deterrence, Contagion, and Legitimacy in Anticorruption Policy Making: An Experimental Analysis," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 275-305.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:doi:10.1086/703128
    DOI: 10.1086/703128
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    Cited by:

    1. Gillanders, Robert & van der Werff, Lisa, 2020. "Corruption Experiences and Attitudes to Political, Interpersonal, and Domestic Violence," MPRA Paper 99949, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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