Confronting the Shadow Economy

Confronting the Shadow Economy

Evaluating Tax Compliance and Behaviour Policies

Colin C. Williams

Beginning with a review of the extent of undeclared work, the author discusses the discrepancies between regions and the potential impacts of the economic crisis, comparing the nature of the potential solutions available with those actually adopted. The way forward, the book concludes, is to move away from increasing the costs of engaging in hidden work using repressive measures, and concentrate more on developing initiatives that enhance the benefits of engaging in declared work and increase the likelihood of compliance by engendering a commitment to tax morality.

Chapter 5: A typology of policy measures

Colin C. Williams

Subjects: business and management, business ethics and trust, economics and finance, economic crime and corruption, labour economics, public choice theory, public finance, politics and public policy, political economy


To do this, the starting point is that those seeking to elicit behaviour change at the societal level in order to tackle the shadow economy have much to learn from academic disciplines, such as human resource management (HRM) and organizational behaviour, which have been promoting behaviour change at the organizational level for many decades. In the first section, therefore, the advances at the scale of the organization in how to elicit behaviour change are reviewed, revealing a shift from the use of direct controls to indirect controls. The second section then shifts the scale of analysis from the organizational to the societal level by developing a typology of the range of direct and indirect controls available to governments for tackling the shadow economy. Using this analytical framework, the third section reviews the available evidence on the policy approaches and measures currently used. This will reveal that, unlike the shift towards indirect controls at the organizational level, at the societal level when tackling the shadow economy, direct controls that punish bad (non-compliant) behaviour remain widely used and other interventions based on either rewarding compliant behaviour or using indirect controls to foster a culture of commitment remain widely perceived as less effective. This will then set the scene for Parts III and IV that provide a comprehensive review and evaluation of the wide range of direct and indirect control policy measures available for tackling the shadow economy.

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