INDIAN college students who cheat are more likely to prefer a government job, a new paper authored by two researchers, one each from Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University) and The Wharton School (Pennsylvania University), said. The survey based on a series of laboratory experiments designed to measure honesty, pro-social behaviours and ability on 669 students from Bangalore, has concluded that “the college students who cheat on a simple task are more likely to...prefer to enter government service after graduation.”
The study titled “Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service” co-authored by Rema Hanna of Harvard and Shing-Yi Wang of Wharton, was funded in part by Harvard Dean’s Grant and the Russell Sage Foundation.
As BoI tweeted a couple of findings on Wednesday, some Indian government officials said it was a sweeping generalisation based on a very small sample. Where is the proof that those in the private sector are less prone to corruption, they asked. Others said it was a fair assessment.
In the survey, the cheaters were detected when they were asked to roll a dice and give answers to some queries. There were altogether 28 sessions located in rooms at the university or in restaurants and other event spaces. The exercise was done in August and September 2012. The paper, published by National Bureau of Economic Research, has come out only this month.
In the conclusion, the paper has offered some key policy insights. For example, it recommends that the recruitment and screening process for bureaucrats may be improved by increasing the emphasis on characteristics other than ability.
In fact, from this year onwards, IAS aspirants had to take a compulsory paper on “Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude” in civil services (mains) examination. (A sample ethics paper HERE).