Panel Paper: The Appearance of Impropriety: Exploratory Analysis of Public Servants’ Attitudes about Conflict of Interest

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

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Fernando Nieto, El Colegio de México

Although seemingly self-explanatory, in reality, the concept of ‘conflict of interest’ comprises a variety of inconsistent expectations and beliefs about proper and improper behavior of public servants. Many such improprieties relate to evident instances of corruption such as influence peddling or accepting bribes. Yet, other forms of behavior that objectively entail conflict of interest may not be generally seen as improprieties, such as some instances of nepotism or when a public servant provides on-the-side paid consulting services to companies. Thus, ‘conflict of interest’ remains a contested concept that surprisingly has received little attention in the public administration literature. This paper aims to help closing this gap by exploring public servants’ views on the issue, and their relation to organizational and individual characteristics. Using data from public employees of the Mexican Federal Government and a 2x2x2 survey vignette design, we study the extent to which situational and individual covariates explicate public servants’ attudinal differences regarding conflict of interest in the public administration.