Panel Paper: Welcome to the Dark Side: Narratives to Corrupt Public Officials

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Building 3, Room 213 (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Oliver D. Meza, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas

Classic explanations around compliance have neglected the role of stories we use to persuade people. This paper address this shortcoming testing how effective are narratives in different contexts to make public officials to non-comply with regulation. We pay special attention to the non-compliance problem commonly known as administrative corruption.

Borrowing from the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), we argue that public officials are prompted to certain misbehaviors when a situation of corruption is framed with an appropriate and alternative narrative. The situation we observe is that a micro-level, narrative and context produce characters in the story assigning who is the hero, who is the villain, and who are the losers. From this point of view, different outcomes are possible in order to avoid an ideological miss-match with what the person, in this case the bureaucrats, think of themselves and the situation they face.

We test this theory using three kinds of narratives in three different contexts. We devised an experimental survey, and applied to public officials of different ranks in the local government of one of the largest cities in Mexico. Results confirmed that non-compliance intentions change depending on the narrative provided, but that similar narratives would function differently depending on the context.