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The Evolution of Cooperative Norms: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

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  • Bandiera, Oriana
  • Barankay, Iwan
  • Rasul, Imran

Abstract

We document the establishment and evolution of a cooperative norm among workers using evidence from a natural field experiment on a leading UK farm. Workers are paid according to a relative incentive scheme under which increasing individual effort raises a worker's own pay but imposes a negative externality on the pay of all co-workers, thus creating a rationale for cooperation. As a counterfactual, we analyse worker behaviour when workers are paid piece rates and thus have no incentive to cooperate. We find that workers cooperate more as their exposure to the relative incentive scheme increases. We also find that individual and group exposure are substitutes, namely workers who work alongside colleagues with higher exposure cooperate more. Shocks to the workforce in the form of new worker arrivals disrupt cooperation in the short term but are then quickly integrated into the norm. Individual exposure, group exposure, and the arrival of new workers have no effect on productivity when workers and paid piece rates and there is no incentive to cooperate.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5358.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5358

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Keywords: cooperation; group exercise; individual exposure;

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References

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  1. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
  2. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and non Monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Post-Print halshs-00175251, HAL.
  3. John A. List, 2003. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," NBER Working Papers 9736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert Slonim & Alvin E. Roth, 1998. "Learning in High Stakes Ultimatum Games: An Experiment in the Slovak Republic," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 569-596, May.
  5. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  6. John O. Ledyard, 1994. "Public Goods: A Survey of Experimental Research," Public Economics 9405003, EconWPA, revised 22 May 1994.
  7. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Seki, Erika, 2005. "Competitive Work Environments and Social Preferences: Field Experimental Evidence from a Japanese Fishing Community," IZA Discussion Papers 1691, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. John List, 2003. "Does market experience eliminate market anomalies?," Natural Field Experiments 00297, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Mark Isaac, R. & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., 1985. "Public goods provision in an experimental environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 51-74, February.
  10. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
  11. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 2004. "Through Trial and Error to Collusion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(1), pages 205-224, 02.
  12. John List & David Reiley, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
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Cited by:
  1. Mirella Damiani & Andrea Ricci, 2012. "The role of education of entrepreneurs on adoption of different contingent pay schemes: evidence from Italian firms," Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia, Finanza e Statistica 116/2013, Università di Perugia, Dipartimento Economia, Finanza e Statistica.
  2. Jim Engle-Warnick & Andreas Leibbrandt, 2006. "Who Gets the Last Word? An Experimental Study of the Effect of a Peer Review Process on the Expression of Social Norms," CIRANO Working Papers 2006s-12, CIRANO.
  3. Donna Harris & Benedikt Herrmann & Andreas Kontoleon, 2009. "Two's Company, Three's a Group: The impact of group identity and group size on in-group favouritism," Environmental Economy and Policy Research Working Papers 41.2009, University of Cambridge, Department of Land Economics, revised 2009.
  4. Paul Dolan & Robert Metcalfe, 2013. "Neighbors, knowledge, and nuggets: two natural field experiments on the role of incentives on energy conservation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51563, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2008. "Field Experiments in Economics: The Past, The Present, and The Future," NBER Working Papers 14356, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John List, 2006. "Field experiments: A bridge between lab and naturally occurring data," Artefactual Field Experiments 00083, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Donna Harris & Benedikt Herrmann, 2012. "When to Favour Your Own group? The Threats of Costly Punishments and In-group Favouritism," Economics Series Working Papers 628, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Dolan, P. & Hallsworth, M. & Halpern, D. & King, D. & Metcalfe, R. & Vlaev, I., 2012. "Influencing behaviour: The mindspace way," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 264-277.
  9. Stephen V. Burks & Jeffrey Carpenter & Lorenz Goette & Kristen Monaco & Aldo Rustichini & Kay Porter, 2007. "Using Behavioral Economic Field Experiments at a Large Motor Carrier: The Context and Design of the Truckers and Turnover Project," NBER Working Papers 12976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Damiani, Mirella & Ricci, Andrea, 2013. "Entrepreneurs’ education and different variable pay schemes in Italian firms," MPRA Paper 46163, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Götte, Lorenz & Monaco, Kristen & Porter, Kay & Rustichini, Aldo, 2007. "Using Behavioral Economic Experiments at a Large Motor Carrier: The Context and Design of the Truckers and Turnover Project," IZA Discussion Papers 2789, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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