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Observability and overcoming coordination failure in organizations: An experimental study

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  • Jordi Brandts

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  • David Cooper

    ()

Abstract

Motivated by problems of coordination failure in organizations, we examine how overcoming coordination failure and maintaining coordination depend on the ability of individuals to observe others’ choices. Subjects’ payoffs depend on coordinating at high effort levels in a weak-link game. Treatments vary along two dimensions. First, subjects either start with low financial incentives for coordination, which typically leads to coordination failure, and then are switched to higher incentives or start with high incentives, which usually yield effective coordination, and are switched to low incentives. Second, as the key treatment variable, subjects either observe the effort levels chosen by all individuals in their experimental group (full feedback) or observe only the minimum effort (limited feedback). We find three primary results: (1) When starting from coordination failure the use of full feedback improves subjects’ ability to overcome coordination failure, (2) When starting with good coordination the use of full feedback has no effect on subjects’ ability to avoid slipping into coordination failure, and (3) History-dependence, defined as dependence of current effort levels on past incentives, is strengthened by the use of full feedback. Copyright Economic Science Association 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Jordi Brandts & David Cooper, 2006. "Observability and overcoming coordination failure in organizations: An experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(4), pages 407-423, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:9:y:2006:i:4:p:407-423
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-006-7056-5
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    Cited by:

    1. Dietmar Fehr, 2011. "The Persistence of "Bad" Precedents and the Need for Communication: A Coordination Experiment," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2011-039, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    2. Timko, Krisztina, 2017. "Gender, Communication Styles, and Leader Effectiveness," MPRA Paper 77021, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Alfonso Rosa García & Hubert Janos Kiss & Ismael Rodríguez Lara, 2009. "Do social networks prevent bank runs?," Working Papers. Serie AD 2009-25, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    4. Cary Deck & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2012. "Perfect and imperfect real-time monitoring in a minimum-effort game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(1), pages 71-88, March.
    5. Cason, Timothy N. & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Zhang, Jingjing, 2012. "Communication and efficiency in competitive coordination games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 26-43.
    6. Banerjee, Simanti & Kwasnica, Anthony M & Shortle, James S, 2011. "Agglomeration Bonus in Local Networks: A laboratory examination of spatial coordination failure," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2011-18, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
    7. Edward Cartwright & Joris Gillet & Mark Van Vugt, 2013. "Leadership By Example In The Weak-Link Game," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(4), pages 2028-2043, October.
    8. Stefania Bortolotti & Giovanna Devetag & Andreas Ortmann, 2009. "Exploring the effects of real effort in a weak-link experiment," CEEL Working Papers 0901, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    9. Simanti Banerjee & Frans P. de Vries & Nick Hanley & Daan P. van Soest, 2014. "The Impact of Information Provision on Agglomeration Bonus Performance: An Experimental Study on Local Networks," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1009-1029.
    10. Francesco Feri & Bernd Irlenbusch & Matthias Sutter, 2010. "Efficiency Gains from Team-Based Coordination—Large-Scale Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1892-1912, September.
    11. Banerjee, Simanti & Kwasnica, Anthony M. & Shortle, James S., 2012. "Agglomeration bonus in small and large local networks: A laboratory examination of spatial coordination," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 142-152.
    12. Bortolotti, Stefania & Devetag, Giovanna & Ortmann, Andreas, 2016. "Group incentives or individual incentives? A real-effort weak-link experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 60-73.
    13. Yoshio Kamijo & Hiroki Ozono & Kazumi Shimizu, 2016. "Overcoming coordination failure using a mechanism based on gradualism and endogeneity," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(1), pages 202-217, March.
    14. Timko, Krisztina, 2017. "Men and Women Are Equally Effective Leaders," MPRA Paper 77022, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Masiliūnas, Aidas, 2017. "Overcoming coordination failure in a critical mass game: Strategic motives and action disclosure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 214-251.
    16. Sam Asher & Lorenzo Casaburi & Plamen Nikolov & Maoliang Ye, 2010. "One step at a time: Does gradualism build coordination?," Framed Field Experiments 00188, The Field Experiments Website.
    17. Kriss, Peter H. & Blume, Andreas & Weber, Roberto A., 2016. "Coordination with decentralized costly communication," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 225-241.
    18. Blaufus, Kay & Möhlmann, Axel, 2012. "Security returns and tax aversion bias: Behavioral responses to tax labels," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 133, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    19. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2006. "A Change Would Do You Good .... An Experimental Study on How to Overcome Coordination Failure in Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 669-693, June.
    20. Kiss, Hubert Janos & Rodriguez-Lara, Ismael & Rosa-García, Alfonso, 2014. "Do social networks prevent or promote bank runs?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 87-99.
    21. Alekseev, Aleksandr & Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2017. "Experimental methods: When and why contextual instructions are important," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 48-59.
    22. Corazzini, Luca & Cotton, Christopher & Valbonesi, Paola, 2015. "Donor coordination in project funding: Evidence from a threshold public goods experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 16-29.
    23. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-17-00049 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Chong, Sophia & Guillen, Pablo, 2012. "The discreet charm of the collective contract," Working Papers 2012-03, University of Sydney, School of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Incentives; Coordination; Observation; Experiments; Organizations;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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