Let’s Play: Bribery Games in the US and Germany
This chapter focuses on behavioral differences across cultures in an experimental bribery game that contributes to cross-country comparisons. To answer the question, what affects an individual’s propensity to engage in and punish corrupt actions?, bribery games have been run with over 700 students, comparing individual decision-making in the US and Germany. Contrary to the assumptions, almost 70% of the Californian participants offered and accepted a bribe. In Germany, almost 50% took the opportunity to offer a bribe and 40% accepted one. In the US, 52% of the participants punished corrupt acts, compared to 80% in Germany. The results can be explained by differences in the level of individualism and by “a cultural transmission of corruption”. This explanation should also imply a society’s ability to build anti-corruption norms.
The author acknowledges financial support from the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine and the DFG (German Research Foundation, grant agreement number KU 3235/1-1).
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