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Learning While Voting: Determinants of Collective Experimentation

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  • Bruno Strulovici

Abstract

This paper combines dynamic social choice and strategic experimentation to study the following question: How does a society, a committee, or, more generally, a group of individuals with potentially heterogeneous preferences, experiment with new opportunities? Each voter recognizes that, during experimentation, other voters also learn about their preferences. As a result, pivotal voters today are biased against experimentation because it reduces their likelihood of remaining pivotal. This phenomenon reduces equilibrium experimentation below the socially efficient level, and may even result in a negative option value of experimentation. However, one can restore efficiency by designing a voting rule that depends deterministically on time. Another main result is that even when payoffs of a reform are independently distributed across the population, good news about any individual's payoff increases other individuals' incentives to experiment with that reform, due to a positive voting externality. Copyright 2010 The Econometric Society.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 78 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (05)
Pages: 933-971

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:78:y:2010:i:3:p:933-971

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  1. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  2. Mattias K. Polborn & Matthias Messner, 2008. "The option to wait in collective decisions," 2008 Meeting Papers 397, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Philippe Jehiel & Oliver Compte, 2007. "Bargaining and Majority Rules: A Collective Search Perspective," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000131, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Leland, Hayne E, 1994. " Corporate Debt Value, Bond Covenants, and Optimal Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1213-52, September.
  5. Albrecht, James & Anderson, Axel & Vroman, Susan, 2010. "Search by committee," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(4), pages 1386-1407, July.
  6. Patrick Bolton & Christopher Harris, 1999. "Strategic Experimentation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 349-374, March.
  7. Kuran, Timur, 1988. "The tenacious past: Theories of personal and collective conservatism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 143-171, September.
  8. Bergemann, Dirk & Hege, Ulrich, 1997. "Venture Capital Financing, Moral Hazard and Learning," CEPR Discussion Papers 1738, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Bergemann, Dirk & Hege, Ulrich, 2001. "The Financing of Innovation: Learning and Stopping," CEPR Discussion Papers 2763, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Godfrey Keller & Sven Rady & Martin Cripps, 2005. "Strategic Experimentation with Exponential Bandits," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 39-68, 01.
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