The Culture-Corruption Hypothesis Revisited: Organizational Culture, Corruption and Worker Preferences

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The empirical literature on corruption has grown exponentially, mainly due to improvements in measurement. The research has focused on survey-based measures of corruption perceptions; expert informed measures; government official behaviour; and even behaviour of the public. Improvements in the measurement of such clandestine activity have led to deeper understanding of the effects of corruption. The “Culture of Corruption” hypothesis states that a prescriptive social norm exists which promotes “abstinence from corruption” in some contexts but not in others. In this paper I explore this relationship. I examine the culture-corruption hypothesis by first reviewing papers that unpack the relationship between culture and corruption, by examining the empirical literature that establishes the linkage between corruption perceptions and corrupt behaviour and asking whether this behaviour is particular to public officials or is prevalent in the wider population. I ask whether perceptions of corruption impact selection, whether corruption can increase or decrease over time, and what is the role of pecuniary incentives in attracting workers with the “right” preferences. I conclude with some reflections on areas for future research and some open questions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Political Economy of Corruption
EditorsChandan Kumar Jha, Ajit Mishra, Sudipta Sarangi
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISBN (Electronic)9781003142300
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2023

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