Following a recent recommendation by Transparency International, we set up a controlled laboratory experiment to gauge the impact of a specific type of grassroots participation on petty corruption. Participants play a simple one-shot, three-person bribery game which, depending on the treatment, either gives or does not give passive third parties who suffer from corruption the opportunity to send a publicly visible message to the potential bribers and bribees. We find that bribes are less likely to be offered in the presence of messaging opportunities. This may be attributed to an increase in the bribe-givers' non-monetary costs of acting corruptly. However, messaging opportunities have no effect on bribe acceptances. We provide a theoretical justification for this null effect, based on the bribe-takers' beliefs that the passive parties inherently value the chance to have a voice.
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