Macro-level & Meta-Studies

Corruption in the Public Sector (CorPuS)

Weißmüller, K.S. & Zuber, A. (2021). ‘Behavioral Micro-foundations of Corruption - A Systematic Review.’ Working paper.

Public sector corruption is one of the most pressing issues of our time. This study examines the psychological and contextual mechanisms that allow individuals to psychologically rationalize and engage in corrupt and deviant behaviors in public administration. Focusing on the micro level of the individual, this study conducts a systematic literature review to synthesize and develop theory based on empirical evidence from the research areas of socioeconomic circumstances, institutionalization, socialization, and individuals’ personality traits, attitudes, and perception. We find that contextual social structures are in fact the most influential factors for predicting individuals’ likelihood of engaging in or tolerating administrative corruption. We identify a number of research clusters and topical blind spots, particularly regarding the role of legitimacy, accountability, and professionalism in cultural context and derive avenues for future research.