Exaggerating good governance: Regime type and score inflation among executive survey informants

Bethany Shockley, Michael Ewers, Yioryos Nardis, Justin Gengler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (SciVal)


Researchers and policymakers often rely on executive surveys to understand and promote good governance. In doing so, they assume that the evaluations provided by these well-informed respondents are not systematically influenced by regime type. However, regime-embedded executives often have a personal stake in the survey outcomes, incentivizing them to exaggerate good governance. This paper compares World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey responses to corollary measures of key governance concepts in democracies, anocracies, and autocracies. It finds evidence of significant score inflation among executives in closed regimes. The individual-level mechanisms are explored in one autocracy by comparing responses from regime-embedded informants based at firms headquartered within the country with those managing businesses headquartered abroad. These micro-level data likewise reveal evidence of widespread inflation, particularly on items related to governance. Finally, a closer look at Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index demonstrates the broader impact Executive Opinion Survey inflation for measuring governance within closed regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-664
Number of pages22
Issue number4
Early online date27 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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