To pay or not to pay? Business owners’ tax morale: testing a neo-institutional framework in a transition environment

Tomasz Mickiewicz, Anna Rebmann*, Arnis Sauka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In order to understand how the environment influences business owner/managers’ attitudes towards tax morale, we build a theoretical model based on a neo-institutionalist framework. Our model combines three complementary perspectives on institutions—normative, cultural–cognitive and regulatory–instrumental. This enables a broader understanding of factors that influence business owner–managers’ attitudes towards tax evasion. We test the resulting hypotheses using regression analysis on survey data on business owner/managers in Latvia—a transition country, which has undergone massive institutional changes since it was part of the Soviet Union over 25 years ago. We find that legitimacy of the tax authorities and the government (normative dimension), feeling of belonging to the nation (cultural–cognitive dimension) and perceptions of the risk and severity of punishment (regulatory–instrumental dimension) are all associated with higher tax morale for business owners and managers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75–93
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


  • entrepreneurship
  • informal economy
  • identity
  • institutions
  • new institutionalism
  • business owners/managers
  • tax evasion
  • tax morale
  • trust


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