Harvard Kennedy School Harvard University

Search this site

logo
Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Rema Hanna
Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies
phone: (617)496-1140
fax: (617)496-5747
Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service
Hanna, Rema, and Shing-Yi Wang. "Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP13-049, December 2013.
Abstract
In this paper, we demonstrate that university students who cheat on a simple task in a laboratory setting are more likely to state a preference for entering public service. Importantly, we also show that cheating on this task is predictive of corrupt behavior by real government workers, implying that this measure captures a meaningful propensity towards corruption. Students who demonstrate lower levels of prosocial preferences in the laboratory games are also more likely to prefer to enter the government, while outcomes on explicit, two-player games to measure cheating and attitudinal measures of corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. We find that a screening process that chooses the highest ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption among the applicant pool. Our findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption. They also emphasize that screening characteristics other than ability may be useful in reducing corruption, but caution that more explicit measures may offer little predictive power.
Attachment
pdf

 

 


Copyright © 2016 The President and Fellows of Harvard College