The Impact of Group Membership on Cooperation and Norm Enforcement: Evidence using Random Assignment to Real Social Groups
AbstractDue to incomplete contracts, efficiency of an organization depends on willingness of individuals to take non-selfish actions, e.g., cooperate when there is no incentive to do so, or punish inefficient actions by others. Organizations also constitute a social boundary, or group. We investigate whether this social aspect of organizations has an important benefit, fostering unselfish cooperation and norm enforcement within the group, but whether there is also a dark side, in the form of hostility between groups. Our experiment provides the first evidence without the confounding effect of self-selection into groups. Individuals are randomly assigned to different platoons during a four-week portion of officer training in the Swiss Army. We conduct choice experiments – simultaneous prisoner’s dilemma games, with and without third-party punishment – in week three. Random assignment significantly increases willingness to cooperate with fellow platoon members. Assignment does not lead to hostility, in the sense of vindictive punishment of outsiders, but does affect norm enforcement, enhancing willingness to enforce a norm of cooperation towards fellow platoon members. This suggests that the social aspect of organizations motivates efficient behavior even when ordinary incentives fail, and helps explain practices designed to foster social ties or group identification within an organization.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2020.
Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review, 2006, 96 (2), 212-216
Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Other versions of this item:
- Lorenz Goette & David Huffman & Stephan Meier, 2006. "The Impact of Group Membership on Cooperation and Norm Enforcement: Evidence Using Random Assignment to Real Social Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 212-216, May.
- Lorenz Goette & David Huffman & Stephan Meier, 2006. "The impact of group membership on cooperation and norm enforcement: evidence using random assignment to real social groups," Working Papers 06-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
- D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
- D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
- J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-03-18 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2006-03-18 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2006-03-18 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2006-03-18 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2006-03-18 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
- NEP-URE-2006-03-18 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001.
"Discrimination In A Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377, February.
- Fershtman, C. & Gneezy, U., 2000. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: an Experimental Approach," Papers 2000-9, Tel Aviv.
- Rachel T. A. Croson, 2007. "Theories Of Commitment, Altruism And Reciprocity: Evidence From Linear Public Goods Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 199-216, 04.
- Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
- Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992.
"Peer Pressure and Partnerships,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-17, August.
- Helen Bernhard & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2006. "Group Affiliation and Altruistic Norm Enforcement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 217-221, May.
- George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
- Durlauf,S.N., 1999. "The case "against" social capital," Working papers 29, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004.
"Third-party punishment and social norms,"
- Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996.
"Trust in Large Organizations,"
NBER Working Papers
5864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, .
"Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment,"
IEW - Working Papers
016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
- George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
- Bornhorst, Fabian & Ichino, Andrea & Schlag, Karl & Winter, Eyal, 2004. "Trust and Trustworthiness Among Europeans: South-North Comparison," CEPR Discussion Papers 4378, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.