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Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 596–619 | Cite as

Anonymous shell companies: A global audit study and field experiment in 176 countries

  • Brent B AllredEmail author
  • Michael G Findley
  • Daniel Nielson
  • J C Sharman
Article

Abstract

To test whether firms behave consistently with international law prohibiting anonymous incorporation, we conducted a global audit study and field experiment, using data from 1639 incorporation firms in 176 countries. We requested anonymous incorporation and randomly assigned references to international law, threat of penalties, norms of appropriate behavior, or a placebo. We find a substantial number of firms willing to flout international standards and show that those in OECD countries proved significantly less compliant with rules than in developing countries or tax havens. Firms in tax havens displayed significantly greater compliance and were sensitive to experimental interventions invoking international law.

Keywords

shell corporations international law audit study global field experiment tax havens 

Résumé

Pour vérifier si les entreprises se comportent conformément au droit international interdisant l’enregistrement anonyme d’une société, nous avons mené une étude d’audit globale et une expérience sur le terrain en utilisant des données sur 1 639 entreprises enregistrées dans 176 pays. Nous avons demandé un enregistrement anonyme et avons assigné au hasard des références au droit international, à la menace de sanctions, à des normes de comportement approprié ou à un placebo. Nous constatons qu’un nombre important d’entreprises sont prêtes à contourner les standards internationaux et nous montrons que celles des pays de l’OCDE s’avèrent moins conformes aux règles que celles des pays en développement ou des paradis fiscaux. Les entreprises dans des paradis fiscaux ont affiché une plus grande conformité et étaient plus sensibles aux interventions expérimentales invoquant le droit international.

Resumen

Para probar si las empresas se comportan consistentemente con el derecho internacional que prohíbe la incorporación anónima, hicimos un estudio global de auditoria y un experimento de campo, usando datos de 1639 empresas incorporadas en 176 países. Solicitamos incorporación anónima y asignamos aleatoriamente referencias al derecho internacional, amenazas de sanciones, normas de comportamiento apropiado, o un placebo. Encontramos un número sustancial de empresas dispuestas a hacer caso omiso a los estándares internacionales y demostramos que las de los países de la OECD resultaron que cumplían en menor medida que las de países en vía de desarrollo o en paraísos fiscales. Las empresas en paraísos fiscales mostraron mayor cumplimiento y fueron susceptibles a las intervenciones experimentales para aplicar el derecho internacionales.

Resumo

Para testar se as empresas se comportam de maneira consistente com leis internacionais que proíbem a incorporação anônima, realizamos um estudo de auditoria global e um experimento de campo, usando dados de 1.639 empresas de incorporação em 176 países. Solicitamos uma incorporação anônima e designamos aleatoriamente referências ao direito internacional, à ameaça de penalidades, às normas adequadas de comportamento, ou um placebo. Encontramos um número substancial de empresas dispostas a desrespeitar os padrões internacionais e mostramos que aquelas empresas em países da OCDE se mostraram significativamente menos condescendentes com as regras do que empresas nos países em desenvolvimento ou paraísos fiscais. As empresas em paraísos fiscais apresentaram uma observância das leis significativamente maior e foram sensíveis a intervenções experimentais que invocavam o direito internacional.

概要

为了检验公司是否与禁止匿名注册公司的国际法行为一致,我们使用176个国家的1639家公司注册的数据,进行了一个全球性的审计研究和田野实验。我们调查了匿名注册公司,并随机参照了国际法,处罚威胁,适当行为规范,或安慰剂。我们发现有相当数量的公司愿意无视国际标准,并显示经合组织国家的公司显著地证明要比发展中国家或避税港的公司较少服从规则。避税港的公司显著地展示出更大的合规性,并对援用了国际法的实验干预敏感。

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Brian Silverman, Steve Tallman, Douglas Cumming, and three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Journal of International Business Studies’ Paper Development Conference in London, UK (February 2016).

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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brent B Allred
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael G Findley
    • 2
  • Daniel Nielson
    • 3
  • J C Sharman
    • 4
  1. 1.Raymond A. Mason School of BusinessThe College of William & MaryWilliamsburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of GovernmentUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Politics and International StudiesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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