Behavioural Insights for Public Integrity

Harnessing the Human Factor to Counter Corruption

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At the core of integrity is a human choice. Behavioural research reveals two determinants of integrity: the internal dynamics of how individuals make moral decisions and how these decisions are shaped and influenced by other people. This report describes how behavioural insights can help make integrity and anti-corruption policies more effective and efficient. It includes concrete policy applications and provides guidance for policy makers on how to use behavioural insights in designing integrity and anti-corruption policies.

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Integrity is more than a rational choice against corruption. Essentially, promoting integrity is encouraging behaviour in the public interest over self-serving behaviour such as corrupt and unethical practices. Yet, human behaviour is often a neglected dimension in integrity policy making. Existing efforts to preventing corruption are still widely based on a rational decision-making model. Such an approach usually stresses the importance of increasing the costs and lowering the benefits of undesired behaviour. Common policy recommendations derived from this include control and sanctions, and reducing the discretion of decision makers in order to diminish their scope for misbehaviour. Sometimes, this has led to over-regulation, the establishment of paralysing controls, and distrust in the public administration.

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