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Cooperation in teams: The role of identity, punishment, and endowment distribution

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  • Weng, Qian
  • Carlsson, Fredrik

Abstract

Common identity and peer punishment have been identified as crucial means to reduce free riding and promote cooperation in teams. This paper examines the relative importance of these two mechanisms under two income distributions in team cooperation. In a repeated public good experiment, we use different combinations of homogeneous/heterogeneous endowments, strong/weak identity, and absence/presence of peer punishment. We find that without punishment, a strong identity can raise cooperation in homogenous and heterogeneous teams, but that the effect depends on the strength of the identity. When punishment is introduced, the impact of punishment depends on the strength of the identity-building activity and the effectiveness of punishment. Furthermore, we find no evidence of stronger cooperation or punishment in teams with strong identity. These findings provide important implications for management policy makers in organizations: ex ante income heterogeneity should be implemented in teams with caution, and the decision of whether identity or punishment is a more effective norm enforcement mechanism in teams is rather sensitive to their interaction and relative strengths.

Suggested Citation

  • Weng, Qian & Carlsson, Fredrik, 2015. "Cooperation in teams: The role of identity, punishment, and endowment distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 25-38.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:126:y:2015:i:c:p:25-38
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.03.007
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    Cited by:

    1. Lata Gangadharan & Nikos Nikiforakis & Marie Claire Villeval, 2015. "Equality concerns and the limits of self-governance in heterogeneous populations," Working Papers 1525, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    2. Nives Della Valle & Matteo Ploner, 2017. "Reacting to Unfairness: Group Identity and Dishonest Behavior," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(3), pages 1-19, July.
    3. Bicskei, Marianna & Lankau, Matthias & Bizer, Kilian, 2014. "How peer-punishment affects cooperativeness in homogeneous and heterogeneous groups: A public goods experiment with social identity," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 200, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    4. repec:eee:eecrev:v:100:y:2017:i:c:p:143-156 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:wiw:wiwwuw:wuwp265 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Gangadharan, Lata & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2017. "Normative conflict and the limits of self-governance in heterogeneous populations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 143-156.
    7. Horstmann, Elaine & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin & Schneider, Tim, 2017. "Cooperation in public goods games: Enhancing effects of group identity and competition," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 324, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    8. repec:wiw:wus005:6448 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Paetzel, Fabian & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2017. "Entitlements and Loyalty in Groups: An Experimental Study," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168224, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Endowment distribution; Identity; Punishment; Cooperation; Public good experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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