Friday, July 27, 2007

What Do Brits Think About Cartels?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

A new working paper, Survey of Public Attitudes to Price-Fixing and Cartel Enforcement in Britain, by Andreas Stephan at the University of East Anglia Centre for Competition Policy reveals British attitudes towards cartels.

ABSTRACT: The paper reports on results from a public survey on attitudes to collusion and cartel enforcement in Britain. Respondents demonstrate an understanding that price-fixing is harmful and should be punished. While there is strong support for high corporate fines and naming and shaming, only 1 in 10 Britons think individuals responsible should be imprisoned. Weak perceptions of the severity of price-fixing are confirmed by only 6 in 10 people considering such practices to be dishonest. Sex and age strongly influence attitudes. Education and newspaper readership have less of an effect, indicating poor information dissemination. Only 20% would report their employer's involvement in price-fixing without guarantees of anonymity and/or a reward: 14% would not report at all for fear of consequences. Public opinion is divided as to whether leniency programmes are justifiable. Respondents consider public enforcement to be more important that compensating parties injured by cartels.

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