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Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility

  • Björn Bartling
  • Urs Fischbacher

To fully understand the motives for delegating a decision right, it is important to study responsibility attributions for outcomes of delegated decisions. We conducted laboratory experiments in which subjects could either choose a fair allocation or an unfair allocation or delegate the choice, and we used a punishment option to elicit responsibility attributions. Our results show that, first, responsibility attribution can be effectively shifted and, second, this can constitute a strong motive for the delegation of a decision right. Moreover, we propose a simple measure of responsibility and show that this measure outperforms measures based on inequity aversion or reciprocity in predicting punishment behaviour. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdr023
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 79 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 67-87

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:79:y:2012:i:1:p:67-87
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