Is Less More? Field Evidence on the Impact of Anti-bribery Policies on Employee Knowledge and Corrupt Behavior

31 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2022

See all articles by Nils Köbis

Nils Köbis

Max Planck Institute for Human Development - Center for Humans and Machines

Sharon Oded

Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics

Anne Leonore de Bruijn

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Shuyu Huang

University of Amsterdam

Benjamin van Rooij

University of California, Irvine School of Law; University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 21, 2022

Abstract

Knowledge of legal and corporate rules marks an essential prerequisite for compliance. Legal ignorance -- organizational members not knowing relevant rules they must comply with -- increases the risks of misbehavior like corruption. The most common way companies seek to improve legal rule knowledge is by adopting corporate policies and communicating them to their employees. While expected by multiple regulatory authorities and widely employed by corporations –by now also in shorter formats– evidence documenting the effectiveness of such corporate policies in improving legal rule knowledge, particularly from the field, is lacking. We thus conducted an extensive online field experiment in which we randomly assigned 1,235 employees of an international technology company to four treatments. In the Long Policy treatment, employees received a 19-page traditional policy written in standard legalese language. The Short Policy treatment entailed a shortened 4-page version of this classic policy, and in the Infographic treatment, employees received an illustrated overview of the essential rules on a single page. Notably, a fourth group received no policy and served as a Control treatment. After reading the policy, employees completed several measures assessing their rule knowledge, perceived social norms and played an incentivized bribery game. We find that a) none of the types of policies presented improves rule knowledge or reduces corrupt behavior compared to the control treatment, and b) no differences exist between the policies in influencing rules knowledge or in reducing corrupt behavior. Instead, we find robust evidence indicating that people form their beliefs about corporate rules and decide to engage in corrupt behavior based on what they consider to be the norm.

Keywords: Code of conduct; field experiments; bribery; anti-corruption; behavioral science

Suggested Citation

Köbis, Nils and Oded, Sharon and de Bruijn, Anne Leonore and Huang, Shuyu and van Rooij, Benjamin and van Rooij, Benjamin, Is Less More? Field Evidence on the Impact of Anti-bribery Policies on Employee Knowledge and Corrupt Behavior (October 21, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4255148 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4255148

Nils Köbis (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Human Development - Center for Humans and Machines ( email )

Berlin
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/person/107772

Sharon Oded

Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
PO box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Anne Leonore De Bruijn

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Shuyu Huang

University of Amsterdam

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Benjamin Van Rooij

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
332
Abstract Views
1,116
Rank
138,523
PlumX Metrics