Corruption And Behavioral Change

first_imgA child pays witness to his parent, giving a hundred rupee note to a traffic constable, a lower penalty without a receipt. As a young adult, he finds himself paying two hundred bucks to the traffic constable, inflation accounted, and of course, without a receipt. The contradictory elements of socially accepted norms and restrictive laws often lead to corruption. There is no need to reiterate what a vast hurdle corruption is to develop, and more so for ‘development’ to reach the intended demographic.However, to expect humans not to find a logical alternate and act virtuously at all times goes right against the evolution principle of the human race. Therefore, the solutions to combat corruption are three-fold: i) Transparency and more substantial governance infrastructure through technology, ii) Legislative amendments with inputs from behavioural science, iii) Positive Culture change in bureaucratic and political bodies. This article will mainly focus on how insights on human behaviour can help us make better policies.While the focus on the intersection of behavioural science and Public policy is only recent, there have been a decent number of interventions aiming to change social norms that accept corruption. These interventions came in many forms, such as Information campaigns, collective deliberations, civic engagement, addressing reciprocity, and moral obligation within closed groups and, installing a culture of integrity through culture change initiatives.In India, Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign through the hunger strike saw success in fighting for the set-up of an anti-corruption body, independent of the elected government. Studies show that anti-corruption agencies, which have proliferated across the globe, only rarely produce dramatic corruption. Keeping the anti-corruption bodies’ effectiveness aside, the awareness created through Anna Hazare’s campaign dissipated soon after. Another campaign, The Doing-in-the-Dark promoted by Princeton University, where students competed for a month to reduce their energy consumption, showed that the energy consumption levels bounced back once the competition was over.A similar sensitizing Information campaign in Paraguay, where a tailor has created suits without pockets, calling these collection anti-corruption suits, became sensational at that point of time. These campaigns, through nudging motivation extrinsically, produced good results only during their execution. They did not see success in creating a long term effect. This is now a problem of how to sustain the inculcated good behaviours. Thus, evidence shows that extrinsic motivation does not seem to stick for long. It has been scientifically demonstrated that doing good or the “right thing” can make a person feel good both psychologically and physically. So we can narrow down our issue to embedding into one’s mind that indulging in corruption is “wrong” so that they are intrinsically motivated to do the “right” thing.One effective measure is to include anti-corruption teachings in the school curriculum so that kids grow up not to compromise on their integrity. When it comes to educating adults, leadership, and culture change initiatives ought to be designed.Systematic corruption puts forth a collective action problem, where despite huge long term benefits, a group fails to act together as individuals seek immediate benefits. Moreover, within closed bureaucratic and political groups, corruption is often driven by the obligation to reciprocate favours. In countries like India, where corruption is an alternate social order; anti-corruption laws and regulations often fail as the law enforcers are themselves corruptible. It is here that behavioural science can lend a hand to make legislation effective.In case of harassment bribes, where-in people are asked to pay up when they claim a legally theirs benefit, it is pointed out that declaring the act of giving a bribe a legitimate activity would reduce the incidence of corruption. The logic behind this is that it will facilitate the bribe givers a free hand to report. In any case, the Indian judicial system is the final line of defence. Without a corrupt, free judicial system, reporting corruptive acts will be of no interest to corruption victims. Imagine a marginal framer whose piece of land from a land redistribution scheme has been put on hold during the paperwork. In his interest to right away pay up the bribe, instead of waging a battle that he will never win.There is yet much to be done to address these issues. Strengthening of bureaucratic and judiciary systems is a must. Studies on demographic responses to Rewards/Penalities, Audits/Monitoring, Restructuring bureaucracies, screening & recruiting have to be considered in drafting policies. However, response to behavioural interventions is heavily contextual and depends on society’s culture. Therefore, emphasis should be laid on testing prospective behavioural interventions through randomized control trails. Behavioural insights are shedding light on the nuanced crack lines of establishments. All in all, corruption is no longer a dead-end, and it is time to indulge ourselves in research and initiatives.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *