Corruption in the Public Sector (CorPuS)

A multi-country experimental study researching corruption in the public sector worldwide

  1. Project Goals and Objectives
  2. Publications
  3. Consortium
    1. Principal researchers & project managers
    2. Collaborators (first wave 2018- )
    3. Collaborators (second wave 2020- )

Project Goals and Objectives

Public sector corruption is a critical yet severely understudied phenomenon in Public Administration (PA). Prior studies have shown that public sector corruption – e.g., in the form of bribery and rule-breaking – causes inequality in access to public services. This inefficient allocation of resources and lack of accessibility equity seriously undermine the public’s trust in government and other public institutions (Getz & Volkema 2001). Researchers trying to examine the origins of public sector corruption traditionally use three different lenses, assuming that (1) the institutional context is accountable (Navot, Reingewertz, & Cohen 2016), (2) the organization is the key driving force (Frost & Tischer 2014), or (3) individual character traits determine deviant behavior (Bolino & Grant 2016). To date, there is neither sufficient empirical evidence supporting either lens, nor a unified theory of public sector corruption.

CorPuS logo

The Public Sector Corruption (CorPuS) project aims to advance theoretical insights and collect rich evidence about a few of the main underlying mechanisms of corruption and their interaction at the micro, meso, and macro level of behavior by conducting rigorous experimental research in fifteen countries.

Following recent calls by van Witteloostuijn (2016) and Walker, Lee, and James (2017) for more experimental work, we account for context effects by replicating our experimental study within different sets of countries, organizations, and populations. That is, our study involves a multi-lab design that involves replication and meta-analysis, employing both the method of agreement and difference (Walker et al. 2018). Furthermore, we hope to derive practical advice for public sector managers on ways to prevent corruption.


I: Pilot Studies

  1. De Waele, L. & Weißmüller, K.S. (2019). ‘Over de bureaucratische paradox en de effecten van Public Service Motivation op corruptie.Vlaams Tijdschrift voor Overheidsmanagement (Flemish Journal of Public Management) 24 (2): 43-56.
  2. Weißmüller, K.S. & De Waele, L. (2019). ‘Would you bribe your lecturer? An international replication study on burnout and corruption in higher education.’ Under review.
  3. Weißmüller, K.S., De Waele, L., van Witteloostuijn, A. (2018). ‘PUBLIC SERVICE MOTIVATION AND PRO-SOCIAL RULE-BREAKING – An international vignettes study in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.’ Under review.
  4. De Waele, L., Weißmüller, K.S., & van Witteloostuijn, A. (2020). ‘BRIBERY TOLERANCE: THE ROLE OF IMPLICIT AND EXPLICIT SOCIAL MOTIVATIONS - A multi-site experimental study in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.’ Under review.

II: Micro-level Studies

  1. Ritz, A., Weißmüller, K.S., De Waele, L. & van Witteloostuijn, A. et al. (2019). ‘PSM and Deviant Behavior: Findings from a Comparative Multi-lab Research Project.’ Plenary Keynote, ‘Elevating Public Service Motivation’ Conference at Brigham Young University, 25.-28.09.2019, Aspen Grove, Sundance, UT, USA.
  2. Weißmüller, K.S., van Witteloostuijn, A., De Waele, L., Ritz, A., Christensen, R.K., Gong, T., Hilgers, D., Homberg, F., Hung, M., Kim, S., Kolltveit, K., Kuo, M., Ma, L., Monteduro, F., Ripoll, G., Schmidthuber, L., Shim, D.C., Su, T., Walker, R., Xiao, H., Yang, S.L. (2020). ‘MICRO-LEVEL FOUNDATIONS OF CORRUPTION: THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD OF PUBLIC SERVICE MOTIVATION. Findings from a Multi-country Multi-lab Research Project.’ Under review.

III: Macro-level & Meta-Studies

  1. Weißmüller, K.S. & Zuber, A. (2020). ‘Behavioral Micro-foundations of Corruption - A Systematic Review.’ Working paper.
  2. Matić, M. & Weißmüller, K.S. (2020). ‘Pro-social Rule Breaking in Street-level Bureaucrats: Antecentes and Motives.’ Working paper.

IV: Documentation and Dissemination

  1. van Witteloostuijn, A., Weißmüller, K.S. (2019). ‘Data Governance and Publication Rules.’
  2. Weißmüller, K.S. (2020). ‘Documentation of Study Variables, Data Usage & Call for Proposals.’


The CorPuS project is a non-commercial, non-commissioned pro-bono scientific research project driven by an international network of academic researchers who are passionate about understanding public sector corruption and about finding effective solutions for practice. The CorPuS project was initiated by Kristina S. Weißmüller, Lode De Waele, and Arjen van Witteloostuijn who also coordinate the project as principle investigators. Collectively, the CorPuS research consortium consists of 21 researchers based in 20 universities and academic research institutes in 15 countries worldwide in the first wave of the project. In 2020, we started raising data in five additional countries (second wave).

On the map below, the blue countries and regions are part of the first wave of the CorPuS project (2018-), the green countries joined for the second wave (2020-). alt text
Please don’t hestitate to contact if you want to know more about the CorPuS Project!

Principal researchers & project managers

Kristina S. Weißmüller, KPM Center for Public Management, Universität Bern, Switzerland

Kristina S. Weissmüller is a postdoc researcher and lecturer at the KPM Center for Public Management, University of Bern, Switzerland. Before joining KPM, she obtained her PhD (Dr. rer. pol.) at Prof. Dr. Rick Vogel’s chair for Public Management, University of Hamburg. She was a research associate at Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg, as well as an external lecturer at the University of Hamburg where she specialized in behavioral economics and experimental research methods. Her main research interest lies in the micro-foundations of corruption, strategic public management under risk (uncertainty and complexity) in PPPs, public service values and motivation, and fallacies of dysfunctional collaboration across sectors. Prior research projects addressed the psychological effects of public sector idiosyncrasies on individuals’ behavior – e.g. regarding risk taking, negotiation, PSM and leadership in higher education, as well as blaming, shaming, and accountability in public-private partnerships – with behavioral and economic research methods. Currently, Kristina's main focus lies on conducting the CorPuS project. Universität Bern
KPM Center for Public Management
Schanzeneckstrasse 1
CH-3001 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. +41 (0)31 631 4768
Lode De Waele, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium Lode De Waele has obtained his PhD at the faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Antwerp (Belgium). He started his PhD in 2013, after being employed in the public sector for several years as an accountant, cabinet member, and senior consultant. His main research interests focus on hybridity, performance management, public service motivation, dark triad personalities and corruption. He teaches courses such as Strategic Management and European and International Environments, in which he addresses the functioning of NGO’s and the European Union. In addition, he gives guest lectures about Sino-European trade relations to both European and Chinese students. Furthermore, he supervises postgraduate students in the Master of Public Management program at the Antwerp Management School and has a post-doc position at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Universiteit Antwerpen
Department of Management
Prinsstraat 13
2000 Antwerpen, België
Tel. +32 (0)32 654 890
Arjen van Witteloostuijn, School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Arjen van Witteloostuijn is Professor of Business and Economics at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam and Dean of the VU School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands, as well as Research Professor in Business, Economics and Governance at the University of Antwerp and Antwerp Management School in Belgium. He was/is member of the Executive Committee of the European Association for Research in Industrial Economics (EARIE), President of the Dutch-Flemish Academy of Management (NVAM), Chairman of the Board of the Council for Economic, Social and Regional Sciences (ESR) of the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO), member of the Economic Advisory Council of the Dutch Parliament, and member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW). Apart from many (chapters in) books, he has published widely in such international journals as the *Academy of Management Executive, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Accounting, Organizations & Society, American Journal of Political Science, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Economica, Economics of Education Review, European Journal of Political Economy, History of Political Economy, Industrial Relations, International Journal of Industrial Organization, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Journal of Economic Psychology, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Management Science, Metroeconomica, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Party Politics, Personality and Individual Differences, Public Administration Review, Strategic Management Journal and Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv*. On a regular basis, he is involved in consultancy and training activities for private and public organizations. His research interests range from international macroeconomics and personality psychology to industrial economics and organizational behavior.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
School of Business and Economics
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Tel. +31 (0)20 598 5230

Collaborators (First wave 2018-)

Catherine Althaus, Robert K. Christensen, Ting GONG, Dennis Hilgers, Fabian Homberg, Mei-Jen HUNG, Sang-Mook KIM , Kristoffer Kolltveit, Ming-Feng KUO, Jenny Lewis, Fabio Monteduro, Janine O’Flynn, Guillem Ripoll Pascual, Adrian Ritz, Lisa Schmidthuber, Dong Chul SHIM, Tsai-tsu SU, Jeannette Taylor, Richard Walker, Hanyu XIAO, & Sunny Litianqing YANG.

Australia & New Zealand

University of Western Australia

University of Melbourne

ANZSOG (Australia and New Zealand School of Government)


Johannes Kepler Universität Linz

Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Wien)


Universiteit Antwerpen


Universität Hamburg

Hong Kong

City University of Hong Kong

The Education University of Hong Kong


Università Tor Vergata, Rome

LUISS University

The Netherlands

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


University of Oslo

People’s Republic of China

Renmin University of China, Beijing


Universidad de Navarra

South Korea

Korea University

Seoul National University of Science & Technology


Universität Bern


National Taiwan University

United Kingdom (UK)

University of Southampton

United States (US)

Brigham Young University

Collaborators (Second wave 2020-)

(work in progress)