Reforming an Institutional Culture of Corruption: a Model of Motivated Agents and Collective Reputation

Justin Valasek (WZB Berlin)

Abstract: State capacity is optimized when public institutions are staffed by individuals with public-service motivation. However, when motivated agents value the collective reputation of their place of employment, steady-state equilibria with both high and low aggregate motivation (reputation) in the mission-oriented sector exist. Reforming a low-motivation institution requires a non-monotonic wage path: since the effect of higher wages on motivation is negative for a high-reputation institution, but positive for a low-reputation institution, a transition to a high-reputation steady state requires an initial wage increase to crowd motivated workers in, followed by a wage decrease to crowd non-motivated workers out.

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