Embezzlement is a major concern. By means of a sequential dictator game, we investigate theoretically and experimentally whether making information more transparent and reducing the number of intermediaries in transfer chains can reduce embezzlement. Consistent with reference-dependent preferences in terms of moral ideal, we show that the impact of transparency is conditional on the length of the transfer chain and on the position of the intermediary in the chain. Its direct effect on image encourages honesty. Its indirect effect via expectations plays in the opposite direction, motivating intermediaries to embezzle more when expecting that the following intermediary will embezzle less.
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