Do monitoring schemes work? : modeling collective and private benefits under collective action



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Does monitoring corruption work? If so, which types of monitoring schemes are most effective at reducing corruption? To answer these questions, we specifically focus on the collective action problem between citizens as they determine whether to report public officials' requests for bribes, or to give in to them. In exploring the ways in which monitoring mitigates citizen behavior, we introduce: (i) collective benefits that are subject to top-down principal-agent challenges; and (ii) private benefits that are subject to horizontal accountability challenges. These challenges notwithstanding, we then illustrate how citizens' optimal strategy may be altered in the presence of monitoring. Expanding on findings under full rationality, we calculate stability sets on the basis of citizens' beliefs in the others' willingness to cooperate. Contrary to existing research that advocates for "big bang" approaches and considers incremental ones as counterproductive, we find that even incremental monitoring interventions mitigate corruption by making citizens more likely to report bribe requests. Moreover, we illustrate under what circumstances investment in collective, or private, benefits is more efficient policy. A byproduct of the stability set approach, our model is remarkably flexible, and appears capable of explaining transitions to low corruption equilibria around the globe. Our results suggest that monitoring corruption is not only a good use of scarce resources but that success is mainly a matter of policy design.



LCSH Subject Headings