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Review of Law & Economics

Editor-in-Chief: Parisi, Francesco / Engel, Christoph

Ed. by Cooter, Robert D. / Gómez Pomar, Fernando / Kornhauser, Lewis A. / Parchomovsky, Gideon / Franzoni, Luigi Alberto

CiteScore 2018: 0.32

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.274
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.493

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Volume 8, Issue 3


Are Academics Messy? Testing the Broken Windows Theory with a Field Experiment in the Work Environment

Joao Ramos / Benno Torgler
Published Online: 2012-12-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/1555-5879.1617


We test the broken windows theory using a field experiment in a shared area of an academic workplace (the department common room). More specifically, we explore academics’ and postgraduate students’ behavior under an order condition (a clean environment) and a disorder condition (a messy environment). We find strong evidence that signs of disorderly behavior trigger littering: In 59% of the cases, subjects litter in the disorder treatment as compared to 18% in the order condition. These results remain robust in a multivariate analysis even when controlling for a large set of factors not directly examined by previous studies. Overall, when academic staff and postgraduate students observe that others have violated the social norm of keeping the common room clean, all else being equal, the probability of littering increases by around 40%.

About the article

Published Online: 2012-12-31

Citation Information: Review of Law & Economics, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 563–577, ISSN (Online) 1555-5879, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/1555-5879.1617.

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©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

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