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Leaders as role models and ‘belief managers’ in social dilemmas

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  • Gächter, Simon
  • Renner, Elke

Abstract

We investigate the link between leadership, beliefs and pro-social behavior in social dilemmas. This link is interesting because field evidence suggests that people's behavior in domains like charitable giving, tax evasion, corporate culture and corruption is influenced by leaders (CEOs, politicians) and beliefs about others’ behavior. Our framework is a repeated experimental public goods game with and without a leader who makes a contribution to the public good before others (the followers). We find that leaders strongly shape their followers’ initial beliefs and contributions. In later rounds, followers put more weight on other followers’ past behavior than on the leader's current action. This creates a path dependency the leader can hardly correct. We discuss the implications for understanding belief effects in naturally occurring situations.

Suggested Citation

  • Gächter, Simon & Renner, Elke, 2018. "Leaders as role models and ‘belief managers’ in social dilemmas," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 321-334.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:154:y:2018:i:c:p:321-334
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.08.001
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    Keywords

    Leadership; Beliefs; Reciprocity; Peer effects; Experiments; Public goods; Path dependency; Public policy; Management;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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