Are Academics Messy? Testing the Broken Windows Theory with a Field Experiment in the Work Environment

13 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2010

See all articles by João Ramos

João Ramos

Queensland University of Technology

Benno Torgler

Queensland University of Technology; CREMA; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Date Written: October 4, 2010

Abstract

We study the broken windows theory with a field experiment in a shared area of a workplace in academia (department common room). We explore academics’ and postgraduate students’ behaviour under an order condition (clean environment) and a disorder condition (messy environment). We find strong support that signs of disorderly behaviour triggers littering. In the disorder treatment 59% of the subjects litter compared to 18% in the order condition. The results remain robust when controlling compared to previous studies for a large set of factors in a multivariate analysis. When academic staff members and postgraduate students observe that others violated the social norm of keeping the common room clean the probability of littering increases ceteris paribus by around 40 percent.

Keywords: Broken Windows Theory, Field Experiment, Littering

JEL Classification: Z13, C93, K42

Suggested Citation

Ramos, João and Torgler, Benno, Are Academics Messy? Testing the Broken Windows Theory with a Field Experiment in the Work Environment (October 4, 2010). FEEM Working Paper No. 104. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1687054 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1687054

João Ramos

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

GPO Box 2434
2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Australia

Benno Torgler (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

GPO Box 2434
2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Australia

CREMA

Gellertstrasse 18
Basel
Zurich, CH 8006
Switzerland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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