The Unintended Consequence of Discipline Inspections as an Anti-Corruption Tool on Managerial Incentives
55 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2023 Last revised: 1 Nov 2023
Date Written: August 18, 2023
From 2013 onwards, the Chinese central government has subjected the largest state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to ‘disciplinary inspections’ to weed out and punish graft and other corruption. While this policy has been somewhat successful in punishing corruption—over 160 top SOE officials have been indicted—we show that the principal economic impact of these inspections has been to significantly cut investment by targeted firms, leading to a major decline in profitability, innovation and Tobin’s Q. Expenditures on R&D, entertainment, and travel also decline dramatically. The most obvious explanation is that the fear induced in SOE managers, who have limited risk-promoting equity holdings or incentive compensation and few external employment options, deterred them from taking risky but value-enhancing investments post-audit.
Keywords: Managerial incentives, Anti-corruption, profitability, stated-owned enterprises
JEL Classification: D73, G34, P26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation