The Buffering Effects of Leaders and Peers Normative Signals on Civil Servants' Inclination Towards Corruption

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 27 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mala SILITONGA, University of Groningen, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Netherlands
Liesbet HEYSE, University of Groningen/ICS, Netherlands
Many governments attempt to control and detect corruption in the public sector. These attempts usually build on the assumption that corrupt acts are the result of a rational cost-benefit calculation of gain seeking individuals. Accordingly, standard anti-corruption interventions consist in intensified monitoring (i.e. increasing the expected probability of detection), and increased severity of punishment (i.e. increasing the expected costs). However, these anti-corruption measures yield mixed results at best, raising questions about its theoretical foundations. We develop and empirically test an alternative theoretical foundation. Based on goal framing theory, we argue that since monitoring can never be perfect, compliance to rules and norms requires a salient normative goal frame. But since the goal frame is inherently brittle, it needs constant reinforcement through external “flanking arrangements” and cues that operate next to formal monitoring and sanctioning. We argue that if rule compliance by leaders and coworkers reflects costly signals, it can constitute a powerful cue to increase the salience of the normative goal frame. Hypotheses on the impact of monitoring, sanctioning, and signaling on corrupt behavior will be tested with multi-level data from a vignette study of 580 senior civil servants in Indonesia, collected during their attendance of a leadership training program organized by the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA). [The research finding and conclusion are in writing process]