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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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    8. 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.
    9. Mittlaender, Sergio, 2020. "The price of exclusion, and the value of inclusive policies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 371-383.
    10. Gangadharan, Lata & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2015. "Equality Concerns and the Limits of Self-Governance in Heterogeneous Populations," IZA Discussion Papers 9384, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Daniel A. Brent & Lata Gangadharan & Anca Mihut & Marie Claire Villeval, 2019. "Taxation, redistribution, and observability in social dilemmas," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 21(5), pages 826-846, October.
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    13. Camera, Gabriele & Hohl, Lukas, 2021. "Group-identity and long-run cooperation: an experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 903-915.
    14. Andrea F. M. Martinangeli, 2017. "Do What (You Think) the Rich Will Do: Inequality and Belief Heterogeneity in Public Good Provision," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2017-06_4, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    15. Christian Grund & Christine Harbring & Kirsten Thommes & Katja Rebecca Tilkes, 2020. "Decisions on Extending Group Membership—Evidence from a Public Good Experiment," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(4), pages 1-27, December.
    16. Pan, Xiaofei & Houser, Daniel, 2019. "Why trust out-groups? The role of punishment under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 236-254.
    17. Kok, Lucille & Oosterbaan, Veerle & Stoker, Hester & Vyrastekova, Jana, 2020. "In-group favouritism and social norms: Public goods experiments in Tanzania," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
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    20. Koch, Christian & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Noussair, Charles N., 2021. "Covenants before the swords: The limits to efficient cooperation in heterogeneous groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 307-321.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Endowment distribution; Identity; Punishment; Cooperation; Public good experiments;
    All these keywords.

    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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