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Cooperation and Punishment under Uncertain Enforcement

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  • Sergio Sousa

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    (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

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    Abstract

    This paper investigates the efficacy of a punishment mechanism in promoting cooperative behaviour in a public goods game when enforcement of punishment is uncertain. Experimental studies have found that a sanctioning system can induce individuals to adopt behaviour deemed as socially acceptable. Yet, our experiment shows that a sanctioning system cannot promote cooperative behaviour if enforcement is a low-probability event and free-riding behaviour is not often punished. This supports the view that punishment needs to be exercised to be feared, otherwise the simple threat of it cannot be effective in promoting cooperation.

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    File URL: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/cedex/documents/papers/2010-06.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2010-06.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2010-06

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    Postal: School of Economics University of Nottingham University Park Nottingham NG7 2RD
    Phone: (44) 0115 951 5620
    Fax: (0115) 951 4159
    Web page: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/economics/cedex/
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    Related research

    Keywords: uncertain enforcement; public good game; altruistic punishment; decisionmaking under uncertainty; cooperation;

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    Cited by:
    1. Theodore Eisenberg & Christoph Engel, 2012. "Assuring Adequate Deterrence in Tort: A Public Good Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. Patel, Amrish & Cartwright, Edward & Mark, Van Vugt, 2010. "Punishment Cannot Sustain Cooperation in a Public Good Game with Free-Rider Anonymity," Working Papers in Economics 451, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    3. Christoph Engel, 2013. "Deterrence by Imperfect Sanctions – A Public Good Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_09, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

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