Professional Identity, Bribery and Public Service Delivery: Evidence from a lab-in-the-field Experiment in Burundi

Jean-Benoit Falisse, Nastassia Leszczynska

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

We explore the effect of professional identity reminders on corrupt
behaviour through a newly designed experimental game that was
played with public servant participants in Burundi. The game requires
participants to allocate a rationed number of vouchers between
anonymous citizens, with some of the citizens attempting to bribe the
public servant. The public servants were randomly assigned to a control
group, a treatment group that was exposed to a standard anticorruption
message, and a treatment group that was exposed to a
message that stressed the qualities of integrity and equity expected
from a public servant. None of the messages had an effect on bribe acceptance,
and only the professional identity message had a significant
impact on the voucher allocation. Our core explanatory hypothesis is
that reminding a public servant of the professional integrity expected
of their public service position makes unethical behaviours such as inequity
in public service delivery less likely. Bribe-taking and public
service delivery were not correlated; additionally, socio-demographic
variables influencing them were different. The experiment provides
both a new understanding of the dimensions of corrupt behaviour and
a new insight into ways to design more cost-effective anti-corruption
policies.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUniversité Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
PublisherThe European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)
Pages30
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2015

Publication series

NameECARES working paper
No.2015-07

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