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Cooperation, reciprocity and self-esteem: A theoretical approach

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  • Marcello Basili

    ()

  • Maurizio Franzini

    ()

Abstract

Cooperation occurs even where it is not predicted by economic theory, owing to what is widely recognized as too narrow a conception of self-interest. In particular, relying on plenty of experimental evidence, it has been maintained that agents adopt such a strong reciprocity rules in their behavior as make it worthwhile to punish those who defect or do not act fairly, costly though as this may be. We propose to lay the analytical foundation of such behavior – and more generally to cooperation-proneness – by considering self-esteem. Agents may include self-esteem in their utility (or goal) function and actually produce or destroy self-esteem through their behavior. This amounts to introducing a moral system in individual behavior in such a way as to make it amenable to rational maximization. We also show how the impact of self-esteem on the best contract in Principal-Agents situations and how such impact differs in Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection situations.

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Paper provided by Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena in its series Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena with number 007.

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Date of creation: Nov 2007
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Handle: RePEc:usi:depfid:007

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Keywords: self-esteem; reciprocity; motivation; incentive; agency.;

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References

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  1. Marcello Basili & Cristina Duranti & Maurizio Franzini, 2004. "Networks, Trust and Institutional Complementarities," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, SIPI Spa, vol. 94(1), pages 159-180, January-F.
  2. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2004. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," Working Papers, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics. 137, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  3. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2005. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 4952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 1998. "The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity," Research in Economics, Santa Fe Institute 98-08-073e, Santa Fe Institute.
  6. Gintis, Herbert, 2004. "Modeling cooperation among self-interested agents: a critique," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 695-714, December.
  7. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Marcello Basili & Antonio Nicita & Maria Alessandra Rossi, 2008. "Contracts and Motivations. The Case of Open Source," Department of Economics University of Siena, Department of Economics, University of Siena 544, Department of Economics, University of Siena.

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