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Free-Riding in the Lab and in the Field

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  • Florian Englmaier
  • Georg Gebhardt

Abstract

To investigate the external validity of laboratory results, we combine a public good experiment with three treatments in a field experiment. One treatment offers the opportunity to free-ride, the other two are placebo treatments. We compare results within subjects. In the free-riding treatment, subjects who contribute little in the lab are less productive. This effect is quantitatively as important as the effect of ability. The correlation between lab and field disappears in the two placebo treatments. We conclude that we can use lab experiments to learn about behavior in situations that share the game form but not necessarily the frame.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2011/wp-cesifo-2011-10/cesifo1_wp3612.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3612.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3612

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Keywords: field and lab experiments; external validity; public goods; team production;

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References

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  1. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital and Predict Financial Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1688-1699, December.
  2. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, . "Experientia Docet: Professionals Play Minimax In Laboratory Experiments," Economic theory and game theory, Oscar Volij 019, Oscar Volij.
  3. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  4. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. John A. List, 2005. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," NBER Working Papers 11616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
  7. Fehr, Ernst & Leibbrandt, Andreas, 2011. "A field study on cooperativeness and impatience in the Tragedy of the Commons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1144-1155, October.
  8. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869, August.
  9. Claude Meidinger & Jean-Louis Rullière & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Does Team-Based Compensation Give Rise to Problems When Agents Vary in Their Ability?," Experimental Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 253-272, November.
  10. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, . "Field Centipedes," Economic theory and game theory, Oscar Volij 020, Oscar Volij.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  12. Matthias Benz & Stephan Meier, . "Do People Behave in Experiments as in the Field? – Evidence from Donations," IEW - Working Papers 248, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Steven Levitt & John List, 2007. "Viewpoint: On the generalizability of lab behaviour to the field," Artefactual Field Experiments, The Field Experiments Website 00001, The Field Experiments Website.
  15. Mark Isaac, R. & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., 1985. "Public goods provision in an experimental environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 51-74, February.
  16. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & David H. Reiley, Jr., 2009. "What Happens in the Field Stays in the Field: Exploring Whether Professionals Play Minimax in Laboratory Experiments," NBER Working Papers 15609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Ritwik Banerjee, 2014. "On the Interpretation of Bribery in a Laboratory Corruption Game: Moral Frames and Social Norms," Economics Working Papers, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus 2014-18, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  2. Axel Franzen & Sonja Pointner, 2013. "The external validity of giving in the dictator game," Experimental Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 155-169, June.

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