Project Goals and Objectives

Corruption in the Public Sector (CorPuS)

Corruption in the Public Sector (CorPuS)

A multi-country experimental study researching corruption in the public sector worldwide

Public sector corruption is a critical yet severely understudied phenomenon in Public Administration (PA). Prior studies have shown that public sector corruption – e.g., in the form of bribery and rule-breaking – causes inequality in access to public services. This inefficient allocation of resources and lack of accessibility equity seriously undermine the public’s trust in government and other public institutions. Researchers trying to examine the origins of public sector corruption traditionally use three different lenses, assuming that

  1. the institutional context is accountable,

  2. the organization is the key driving force, or

  3. individual character traits determine deviant behavior.

To date, there is neither sufficient empirical evidence supporting either lens, nor a unified theory of public sector corruption.

The international research project Corruption in the Public Sector (CorPuS) aims to advance theoretical insights and collect rich evidence about a few of the main underlying mechanisms of corruption and their interaction at the micro, meso, and macro level of behavior by conducting rigorous experimental research in fifteen countries.

Following recent calls for more experimental work, we account for context effects by replicating our experimental study within different sets of countries, organizations, and populations. That is, our study involves a multi-lab design that involves replication and meta-analysis, employing both the method of agreement and difference. Furthermore, we hope to derive practical advice for public sector managers on ways to prevent corruption.

The CorPuS project is a non-commercial, non-commissioned pro-bono scientific research project driven by an international network of academic researchers who are passionate about understanding public sector corruption and about finding effective solutions for practice. The CorPuS project was initiated by Kristina S. Weißmüller, Lode De Waele, and Arjen van Witteloostuijn who also coordinate the project as principle investigators. Collectively, the CorPuS research consortium consists of 21 researchers based in 20 universities and academic research institutes in 15 countries worldwide in the first wave of the project. In autumn 2020, we started raising data in five additional countries (second wave) and plan to expand our research even further in the future.

The CorPuS project is an informal international consortium of research partners from countries across the world who conduct data collection through a quasi-experimental vignettes study, with the aim to deepen our knowledge of potential micro-foundations of public sector corruption. The key of CorPuS is not only its quasi-experimental design, but also the explicit objective to engage in a large-scale cross-country study in order to examine differences and similarities of such potential micro-foundations of public sector corruption across differing cultural and institutional contexts.

As of autumn 2020, the first wave data collection is complete and resulted in a unique dataset based on experimental and behavioral responses by 6,500 public sector professionals and students of PA and PM.

Please don't hestitate to contact Kristina S. Weißmüller or Arjen van Witteloostuijn if you want to know more about the CorPuS Project or if you consider joining the international research network. You can find a map of all countries and regions involved here, where we introduce our project partners in more detail.

Principal Research Institutions of the CorPuS Project

Partner Institutions of the CorPuS Project