Insider versus outsider responses to corrupt deals

This experiment by Maral Muratbekova-Touron, Camila Lee Park and Mauro Fracarolli Nunes (ESCP Europe) aimed to understand to what extent the individual responses of network insiders are different from those of outsiders when confronted with corrupt situations in corrupt versus non-corrupt environments. Does the sense of belonging to a powerful network affect individual decision-making in terms of ethicality with regards to a corrupt situation?

A vignette-based experiment invited the participation of 464 individuals from countries considered as corrupt (Kazakhstan and Russia) and non-corrupt (UK and USA).

The results suggest that network insiders do behave differently from outsiders:

  • Outsiders are more likely to comply with ethical logic and defy corruption logic under both conditions of corrupt and non-corrupt environment. Their role in society is likely to be one of challenger of corruption logic (for corrupt environment) or protector of ethical logic (for non-corrupt environment).
  • Insiders, on the other hand, also relate to complying with the ethical logic, with no difference between ignoring or defying corruption. The insider results were expected for non-corrupt environments, but they are counter-intuitive for the corrupt contexts, since we expected insiders to identify with the follower of corruption logic strategy.

These results can be explained by the fact that we had highly incomplete response rates in Kazakhstan and Russia, with respondents that actually began to participate and read the scenario, but dropped out after the first questions. This suggests there could be a social desirability bias in place, meaning that respondents answered what they think would be the correct answer in terms of behaviour, not necessarily reflecting their true actions.

For further information on the experiment, please see the video: