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Communication, Renegotiation, and the Scope for Collusion

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  • Cooper, David J.
  • Kühn, Kai-Uwe

Abstract

We use experiments to analyze what type of communication is most effective in achieving cooperation in a simple collusion game. Consistent with the existing literature on communication and collusion, even minimal communication leads to a short run increase in collusion. However, in a limited message-space treatment where subjects cannot communicate contingent strategies, this initial burst of collusion rapidly collapses. When unlimited pre-game communication is allowed via a chat window, an initial decline in collusion is reversed over time. Content analysis is used to identify multiple channels by which communication improves collusion in this setting. Explicit threats to punish cheating prove to be by far the most important factor to successfully establish collusion, consistent with the existing theory of collusion. However, collusion is even more likely when we allow for renegotiation, contrary to standard theories of renegotiation. What appears critical for the success of collusion with renegotiation is that cheaters are often admonished in strong terms. Allowing renegotiation therefore appears to increase collusion by allowing for an inexpensive and highly effective form of punishment.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7563.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7563

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Keywords: collusion; communication; experiments; guilt aversion; renegotiation; trust;

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  1. Duffy, John & Ochs, Jack, 2009. "Cooperative behavior and the frequency of social interaction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 785-812, July.
  2. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  3. Gabriele Camera & Marco Casari, 2009. "Cooperation among Strangers under the Shadow of the Future," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 979-1005, June.
  4. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2001. "Monetary and Non-Monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Post-Print halshs-00151423, HAL.
  5. Erte Xiao & Daniel Houser, 2005. "Emotion expression in human punishment behavior," Experimental 0504003, EconWPA, revised 18 May 2005.
  6. Abrea Dilip & Pearce David & Stacchetti Ennio, 1993. "Renegotiation and Symmetry in Repeated Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 217-240, August.
  7. Charness, Gary B & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2008. "Broken Promises: An Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6836m74q, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  8. Timothy N Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 2008. "Coordinating Collective Resistance Through Communication And Repeated Interaction," Monash Economics Working Papers 16/08, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Andersson, Ola & Wengström, Erik, 2012. "Credible communication and cooperation: Experimental evidence from multi-stage Games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 207-219.

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