Overcoming Collective Action Problems through Anti-Corruption Messages

41 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2019

See all articles by Caryn Peiffer

Caryn Peiffer

Developmental Leadership Program

Grant Walton

Australian National University - Development Policy Centre

Date Written: February 12, 2019


Anti-corruption campaigns often include an awareness raising component which highlights the negative consequences of corruption; the idea is that awareness will empower citizens to demand a change. However, experiences from developing countries suggest that messages that highlight corruption’s prevalence may actually backfire by adding to the belief that corruption is normal and an intractable collective action problem. In this paper, we present findings from a survey experiment conducted in Port Moresby with over 1500 respondents, to understand how Papua New Guineans might respond to different messages about corruption and anti-corruption. Each respondent was randomly assigned to a group where they either were not exposed to a message about corruption (control group) or had one of four messages read to them and were shown a picture that was tightly associated with the message. The messages, each a separate narrative, emphasised the legal, moral and communal aspects of corruption and anti-corruption in Papua New Guinea, as well as its ubiquity. Findings suggest that respondents are more likely to see corruption as widespread, have favourable attitudes about reporting corruption, and may be more willing to report corruption when they are exposed to anti-corruption messages that emphasise impacts to respondents’ local kinship groups. These findings have significant implications for those seeking to increase citizens’ willingness to respond to corruption in contexts where corruption resembles a collective action problem.

Keywords: anti-corruption, PNG, collective action

JEL Classification: Z18

Suggested Citation

Peiffer, Caryn and Walton, Grant, Overcoming Collective Action Problems through Anti-Corruption Messages (February 12, 2019). Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 77, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3333475 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3333475

Caryn Peiffer (Contact Author)

Developmental Leadership Program ( email )

Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Grant Walton

Australian National University - Development Policy Centre ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

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