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Corporate Governance for Crooks? The Case for Corporate Virtue


  • Margit Osterloh
  • Bruno S. Frey


Corporate scandals are reflected in excessive top management compensation and fraudulent accounts. These scandals cause an enormous amount of damage, not only to the companies affected, but also to the market economy as a whole. As a solution, conventional wisdom suggests more monitoring and sanctioning of management. We argue that these efforts will create a governance structure for crooks. Instead of solving the problem, they make it worse. Selfish extrinsic motivation is reinforced. We suggest measures which clash with conventional wisdom: selecting employees with pro-social intrinsic preferences, de-emphasizing variable pay for performance and strengthening the participation and self-governance of employees. These measures help to increase intrinsically motivated corporate virtue and honesty.

Suggested Citation

  • Margit Osterloh & Bruno S. Frey, "undated". "Corporate Governance for Crooks? The Case for Corporate Virtue," IEW - Working Papers 164, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:164

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    More about this item


    Corporate Virtue; fraud; intrinsic motivation; crowding theory; pay for performance; employee participation;

    JEL classification:

    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • M2 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics


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