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Observability and Overcoming Coordination Failure in Organizations

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Abstract

Many organizations suffer poor performance because its members fail to coordinate on efficient patterns of behavior. In previous research, we have shown that financial incentives can be used to find a way out of such performance traps. Here we examine the sensitivity of this result to the ability of people to observe others' choices. Our experiments are set in a corporate environment where subjects' payoffs depend on coordinating at high effort levels; the underlying game being played repeatedly by the employees of an experimental firm is a weak-link game. Treatments vary along two dimensions. First, subjects either start with low financial incentives for coordination, which typically leads to coordination failure, and then are switched to higher incentives or start with high incentives, which typically yield effective coordination, and are switched to low incentives. Second, as the key treatment variable, subjects either observe the effort levels chosen by all employees in their experimenta

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Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 630.04.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: 01 Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:630.04

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Keywords: Incentives; Coordination; Observation; Experiments; Organizations;

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  1. J. B. Van Huyck & R. C. Battalio & R. O. Beil, 2010. "Tacit coordination games, strategic uncertainty, and coordination failure," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000393, David K. Levine.
  2. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1998. "Does information about competitors' actions increase or decrease competition in experimental oligopoly markets?," Industrial Organization 9803004, EconWPA.
  3. Offerman, T.J.S. & Potters, J.J.M. & Sonnemans, J., 2002. "Imitation and belief learning in an oligopoly experiment," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-91663, Tilburg University.
  4. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2006. "A Change Would Do You Good .... An Experimental Study on How to Overcome Coordination Failure in Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 669-693, June.
  5. Fernando Vega Redondo, 1996. "The evolution of walrasian behavior," Working Papers. Serie AD 1996-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  6. Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc & Weber, Roberto A., 1996. "Timing and Virtual Observability in Ultimatum Bargaining and Weak Link Coordination Games," Working Papers 970, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  7. Antoni Bosch-DomËnech & Nicolaas J. Vriend, 2003. "Imitation of successful behaviour in cournot markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(487), pages 495-524, 04.
  8. Knez, Marc & Camerer, Colin, 2000. "Increasing Cooperation in Prisoner's Dilemmas by Establishing a Precedent of Efficiency in Coordination Games," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 194-216, July.
  9. Cooper, David J. & Kagel, John H., 2003. "The impact of meaningful context on strategic play in signaling games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 311-337, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Francesco Feri & Bernd Irlenbusch & Matthias Sutter, 2008. "Efficiency Gains from Team-Based Coordination ? Large-Scale Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 2008-22, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  2. Alfonso Rosa García & Hubert Janos Kiss & Ismael Rodríguez Lara, 2009. "Do social networks prevent bank runs?," Working Papers. Serie AD 2009-25, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  3. Dietmar Fehr, 2011. "The Persistence of "Bad" Precedents and the Need for Communication: A Coordination Experiment," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2011-039, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  4. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2005. "It's What You Say Not What You Pay," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 643.05, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  5. Giovanna Devetag & Andreas Ortmann, 2006. "When and Why? A Critical Survey on Coordination Failure in the Laboratory," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp302, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  6. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2006. "A Change Would Do You Good .... An Experimental Study on How to Overcome Coordination Failure in Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 669-693, June.
  7. Timothy N. Cason & Roman M. Sheremeta & Jingjing Zhang, 2010. "Communication and efficiency in competitive coordination games," IEW - Working Papers 505, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Feb 2012.

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