Scientific Understanding of Corruption Sought

Aug 25, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Corruption is one of the most cited factors inhibiting economic development. It impedes political and economic growth, reduces the welfare of societies, increases income inequality and reduces trust in political institutions.

The creation of anti-corruption policies is a struggle for policymakers all over the world. Sheheryar Banuri, a doctoral student in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS), explains why the task is so daunting.

“If anti-corruption policy measures fail, corruption may then be viewed as a problem that cannot be addressed, so that policy interventions do more harm than good,” Banuri said. “This makes the trial-and-error method of policymaking very risky for countries. Policies need to have a high probability of effectiveness before countries will risk implementation, yet there is no venue where they can be tested.”

Banuri's dissertation research creates a means of testing these policies. His National Science Foundation grant, “Doctoral Dissertation Research in Political Science: An Experimental Study of Bribery, Nepotism and Patronage,” will study different types of corruption intervention policies in the United States and Pakistan through behavioral economics experiments.

“Generally when you formulate policy, policymakers make decisions without knowing the outcome,” Banuri said. “Our approach is to use the scientific process to analyze the effect policy has on individual behavior before the policy is even implemented on the world stage. In essence, it is utilizing our scientific tools to develop policy. Lab experiments constitute a kind of ‘wind tunnel’ for testing and refining policies.”

The proposed experiments investigate three different types of corruption - bribery, nepotism and patronage - and three different policy interventions - sanctions, enhanced civic awareness and improved transparency - in the U.S. and Pakistan.

The international scope of Banuri’s research is important because corruption is viewed differently from culture to culture.

“The success of anti-corruption policy is highly reliant upon underlying culture,” Banuri said. “The same policies can succeed in one cultural atmosphere but fail in another.”

Banuri is conducting his research under the direction of Catherine Eckel, Ashbel Smith Professor of Economics and director of the UT Dallas Center for Behavioral and Experimental Economic Science (CBEES).

Banuri has already started the first two pilot projects of his study using the CBEES lab and the UT Dallas Negotiations Center. He will conduct additional experiments at Rice University’s Behavioral Research Lab and at the Institute for Business Administration in Karachi, Pakistan.

These behavioral economics labs offer Banuri an inexpensive, low-consequence environment to demonstrate how and when anti-corruption policies are likely to be effective.

Banuri earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from UT Dallas and is in his fourth year of the political economy doctoral program. He credits EPPS professors for encouraging him to pursue his graduate degree.

“At UT Dallas, the level of faculty support for students is incredible. They care about my development as a scholar and have made me believe not only that my ideas were excellent, but also that they could be implemented in a manner that would allow real positive change in the political-economic arena,” Banuri said.

Provided by University of Texas at Dallas (news : web)

Explore further: Personalized advertising attracts more attention, makes the contents of ads easier to remember

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Policy Reforms May Increase Petty Corruption

May 26, 2008

A study in the International Journal of Economic Theory published by Wiley-Blackwell finds that certain proposed reforms intended to reduce petty corruption can actually have the opposite effect and increase the occurrence of cor ...

Transparency in politics can lead to greater corruption

Oct 10, 2008

Why are some countries more prone to political corruption? Viviana Stechina from Uppsala University, Sweden, has investigated why corruption among the political elite was more extensive in Argentina than in Chile during ...

Corruption is Expensive, But Who Pays the Bills?

Mar 25, 2008

One often must look no further than today’s headlines to find examples of personal failure, corporate financial woes and political corruption. But how does political integrity affect the bottom line? A University of Missouri ...

Study finds link between political corruption and FEMA money

Dec 11, 2008

Where natural disasters strike, political corruption is soon to follow, say the authors of a study in the Journal of Law and Economics. But it's not the wind and rain that turns good folks bad; it's the money that floods ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

Dec 18, 2014

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

Dec 18, 2014

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

marjon
not rated yet Aug 26, 2009
As for corruption is science, don't exclude arrogance and narcissism as motivating factors for corruption.
That is what is very disappointing about 'rational' scientists. They act just like children on a playground when it comes to trying to be first.
Mandan
not rated yet Aug 28, 2009
"That is what is very disappointing about 'rational' scientists. They act just like children on a playground when it comes to trying to be first."

Your point has more than a little validity, but it would have been better made if you had said "some" scientists instead of implying "all" of them do this. Others sometimes have their research taken out of context or blown out of proportion by non-experts, but many scientists exercise good judgement as well.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.