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Social Preferences and Relational Contracting Performance: An Experimental Investigation

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  • Brian Roe

    (Ohio State University)

  • Steven Y. Wu

    (Ohio State University)

Abstract

We examine how social preferences affect behavior and surplus in relational contracts. Experimental subjects participate in a contracting environment similar to Brown, Falk, and Fehr [Brown, M., Falk, A. & Fehr, E., “Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions, Econometrica, 72 (2004):747-780] and in social preference experiments adapted from Charness and Rabin [Charness, G. & Rabin, M. “Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 117(2002): 817-869]. Subjects’ behavior during the Charness and Rabin experiment is a significant predictor of behavior and outcomes observed during the subsequent multi-period, finite-horizon, relational- contracting environment, which features market power, unenforceable performance, reputation formation and endogenous matching of trading partners. Compared to subjects who respond to the Charness-Rabin games in a fashion consistent with purely self-interested, competitive or reciprocal social preferences, buyers and sellers with alternative social preference structures engage in contracts with substantially higher quality and price, which leads to greater surplus for both parties. A key difference is that self-interested, competitive and reciprocal buyers respond to early-period shirking by extending subsequent offers that are less generous to the seller, while buyers with other social preferences extend subsequent offers that are more generous. Reciprocal and competitive sellers and, to a lesser extent, self-interested sellers, deliver sub-contractual levels of quality more often, which substantially lowers buyer and total welfare. We conclude that intentional or ‘cold’ measures of social preferences have considerable predictive power in dynamic, interactive (or ‘hot’) economic settings.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mic/papers/0509/0509006.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 0509006.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 21 Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0509006

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 48. September 2005
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: Contracts; relational contracts; implicit contracts; market interaction; experimental economics; repeated transaction; social preferences.;

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References

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  1. Fehr, Ernst, et al, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-51, April.
  2. Bereby-Meyer, Yoella & Niederle, Muriel, 2005. "Fairness in bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 173-186, February.
  3. Brown, Martin & Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2003. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," IZA Discussion Papers 897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Riedl, Arno, 1995. "Gift Exchange and Reciprocity in Competitive Experimental Markets," Economics Series 14, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  5. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Riedl, Arno, 1996. "Involuntary Unemployment and Non-compensating Wage Differentials in an Experimental Labour Market," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(434), pages 106-21, January.
  6. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  7. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2002. "Why Social Preferences Matter -- The Impact of Non-Selfish Motives on Competition, Cooperation and Incentives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C1-C33, March.
  9. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  10. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Verhoogen, Eric, 2003. "Playing both roles in the trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-216, June.
  11. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  12. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Beyond Outcomes: Measuring Procedural Utility," IEW - Working Papers 076, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2004. "Do Labour Market Conditions Affect Gift Exchange? Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 684-708, 07.
  14. Brandts,Jordi & Riedl,Arno & Winden,Frans,van, 2005. "Competition and Well-Being," Research Memorandum 033, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  15. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2004. "Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal-Agent Model," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 453-474, October.
  16. Adriana D. Kugler & Gilles Saint-Paul, 2004. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Worker Flows in a World with Adverse Selection?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 553-584, July.
  17. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  18. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000143, David K. Levine.
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Cited by:
  1. Kamas, Linda & Preston, Anne, 2012. "Distributive and reciprocal fairness: What can we learn from the heterogeneity of social preferences?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 538-553.

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