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The role of communication in fair division with subjective claims


  • Gantner, Anita
  • Horn, Kristian
  • Kerschbamer, Rudolf


When agents’ claims regarding the division of a cake are subjective and conflicting, it is difficult to obtain an outcome that is considered fair by the involved parties. This paper investigates how pre-play communication affects behavior and outcomes in fair division experiments where various procedures are used to obtain an allocation of the available resources. On the one hand, it is known from bargaining experiments that communication often leads to faster agreements and to more egalitarian allocations. On the other hand, communication may facilitate the emergence of minority-exploiting coalitions when procedures are used which are not collusion-proof. We find that communication increases both efficiency and perceived fairness of the implemented division independent of the procedure used to obtain a solution. Interestingly, collusion, while highly beneficial for those participating, is rarely attempted even when private communication channels are available.

Suggested Citation

  • Gantner, Anita & Horn, Kristian & Kerschbamer, Rudolf, 2019. "The role of communication in fair division with subjective claims," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 72-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:167:y:2019:i:c:p:72-89
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.09.015

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    More about this item


    Fair division; Communication; Collusion; Subjective claims; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General


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