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The power of words in a petty corruption experiment

Author

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  • Maria Vittoria Levati

    (Department of Economics (University of Verona))

  • Chiara Nardi

    (Department of Economics (University of Verona))

Abstract

Following a recent recommendation by Transparency International, we set up a controlled laboratory experiment to gauge the impact of a specific type of grassroots participation on petty corruption. Participants play a simple one-shot, three-person bribery game which, depending on the treatment, either gives or does not give passive third parties who suffer from corruption the opportunity to send a publicly visible message to the potential bribers and bribees. We find that bribes are less likely to be offered in the presence of messaging opportunities. This may be attributed to an increase in the bribe-givers' non-monetary costs of acting corruptly. However, messaging opportunities have no effect on bribe acceptances. We provide a theoretical justification for this null effect, based on the bribe-takers' beliefs that the passive parties inherently value the chance to have a voice.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Vittoria Levati & Chiara Nardi, 2019. "The power of words in a petty corruption experiment," Working Papers 18/2019, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ver:wpaper:18/2019
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Petty corruption; Bribery game; Communication; Experiments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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