The Role of Harambee Contributions in Corruption: Experimental Evidence from Kenya

This paper uses an experiment involving a public good game and a common pool resource game to investigate if individuals compensate their “Harambee” contributions by engaging in corruption. The results show an inverse relationship between public good contributions and common pool resource extractions, in that cooperator in public good contributions extract less from the common pool resource. To the extent that the experiment mimics the alleged link between contributions to harambee and corrupt acts of embezzlement ex-post, the basis for blaming harambee on corruption is not established by the results. Consistent with the findings documented in Henrich et al, 2001 which showed that Kenyan subjects brought their everyday experience of harambee into the public good setting, this paper also documents the fact that participants in the games brought their real life experience of harambee to bear on their decisions. This highlights the important and potentially positive reinforcing role that social norms and institutions can have on individual decisions.

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Author (s)

Abraham K. Waithima

Document Type



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