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Personal accountability and cooperation in teams

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  • Sonntag, Axel
  • Zizzo, Daniel John

Abstract

In a real effort lab and online team production experiment, we analyze exerted effort under different conditions of individual accountability. In a repeated setting, we vary the degree to which production can be directly traced back to a collaborator's individual or randomly drawn effort level, respectively. We find that individuals produce much less and the decline of effort over time is significantly steeper under high as compared to low and endogenously chosen personal accountability. While endogenous accountability provides an option for monitoring others, it does not force subjects to learn about their under-performing peers, thus limiting the typical decline of contributions over time. We conclude that accountability one step removed may be an interesting institutional setting for repeated collaborations in contexts where low accountability for political, social or legal reasons is not a viable option.

Suggested Citation

  • Sonntag, Axel & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2019. "Personal accountability and cooperation in teams," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 428-448.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:158:y:2019:i:c:p:428-448
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.12.014
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    Keywords

    Team production; Imperfect observability; Information acquisition; Lab and online experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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