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Organisational structure, communication and group ethics

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  • Matthew Ellman
  • Paul Pezanis-Christou

Abstract

This paper investigates experimentally how organisational decision processes affect the moral motivations of actors inside a firm that must forego profits to reduce harming a third party. In a "vertical" treatment, one insider unilaterally sets the harm-reduction strategy; the other can only accept or quit. In a "horizontal" treatment, the insiders decide by consensus. Our 2-by-2 design also controls for communication effects. In our data, communication makes vertical firms more ethical; voice appears to mitigate "responsibility-alleviation" in that subordinates with voice feel responsible for what their firms do. Vertical firms are then more ethical than the horizontal firms for which our bargaining data reveal a dynamic form of responsibility-alleviation and our chat data indicate a strong "insider-outsider" effect.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 290.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:290

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Related research

Keywords: experimental economics; group decision-making; organisational structure; communication; ethics; responsibility-alleviation and responsibility-dilution.;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Charness, Gary & Brandts, Jordi & Ellman, Matthew, 2012. "Let’s talk: How communication affects contract design," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6z24s6rv, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  2. Bernhard Kittel & Wolfgang Luhan, 2013. "Decision making in networks: an experiment on structure effects in a group dictator game," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 141-154, January.
  3. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness & Matthew Ellman, 2012. "Let's Talk: How Communication Affects Contract Design," CESifo Working Paper Series 3883, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. James Bland & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2013. "Tacit Coordination in Games with Third-Party Externalities," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  5. Christoph Engel & Lilia Zhurakhovska, 2011. "Oligopoly as a Socially Embedded Dilemma. An Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_01, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  6. Sarah Jacobson & Jason Delaney, 2013. "Those Outsiders: How Downstream Externalities Affect Public Good Provision," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-09, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  7. Christoph Engel & Bettina Rockenbach, 2009. "We Are Not Alone: The Impact of Externalities on Public Good Provision," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2009_29, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised May 2011.
  8. Christoph Engel & Lilia Zhurakhovska, 2012. "Harm on an Innocent Outsider as a Lubricant of Cooperation – An Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_02, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  9. Delaney, Jason & Jacobson, Sarah, 2014. "Those outsiders: How downstream externalities affect public good provision," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 340-352.
  10. Avner Ben-Ner & Matthew Ellman, 2013. "The contributions of behavioural economics to understanding and advancing the sustainability of worker cooperatives," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 2(1), pages 75-100, August.
  11. Nicholas Wilson, 2012. "Shock to the System: Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Child Mortality," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-03, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jul 2013.

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