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Organisational structure, communication and group ethics

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  • Matthew Ellman

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  • Paul Pezanis-Christou

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Abstract

This paper investigates experimentally how organisational decision processes affect the moral motivations of actors inside a firm that must forego profits to reduce harming a third party. In a "vertical" treatment, one insider unilaterally sets the harm-reduction strategy; the other can only accept or quit. In a "horizontal" treatment, the insiders decide by consensus. Our 2-by-2 design also controls for communication effects. In our data, communication makes vertical firms more ethical; voice appears to mitigate "responsibility-alleviation" in that subordinates with voice feel responsible for what their firms do. Vertical firms are then more ethical than the horizontal firms for which our bargaining data reveal a dynamic form of responsibility-alleviation and our chat data indicate a strong "insider-outsider" effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Ellman & Paul Pezanis-Christou, 2007. "Organisational structure, communication and group ethics," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 682.07, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:682.07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bernhard Kittel & Wolfgang Luhan, 2013. "Decision making in networks: an experiment on structure effects in a group dictator game," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 40(1), pages 141-154, January.
    2. Gary Bolton & Axel Ockenfels & Peter Werner, 2016. "Leveraging social relationships and transparency in the insider game," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(2), pages 127-143, November.
    3. Jordi Brandts & Matthew Ellman & Gary Charness, 2016. "Let'S Talk: How Communication Affects Contract Design," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 943-974, August.
    4. Peter H. Kriss & Roberto Weber, 2013. "Organizational formation and change: lessons from economic laboratory experiments," Chapters,in: Handbook of Economic Organization, chapter 14 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Delaney, Jason & Jacobson, Sarah, 2014. "Those outsiders: How downstream externalities affect public good provision," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 340-352.
    6. Charness, Gary & Brandts, Jordi & Ellman, Matthew, 2012. "Let’s talk: How communication affects contract design," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6z24s6rv, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    7. Nicholas Wilson, 2012. "Shock to the System: Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Child Mortality," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-03, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jul 2013.
    8. Engel, Christoph & Zhurakhovska, Lilia, 2014. "Conditional cooperation with negative externalities – An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 252-260.
    9. Bland, James & Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2015. "Coordination with third-party externalities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 1-15.
    10. Christoph Engel & Bettina Rockenbach, 2009. "We Are Not Alone: The Impact of Externalities on Public Good Provision," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2009_29, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised May 2011.
    11. James Bland & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2013. "Tacit Coordination in Games with Third-Party Externalities," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    12. Christoph Engel & Lilia Zhurakhovska, 2011. "Oligopoly as a Socially Embedded Dilemma. An Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_01, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    13. Avner Ben-Ner & Matthew Ellman, 2013. "The contributions of behavioural economics to understanding and advancing the sustainability of worker cooperatives," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 2(1), pages 75-100, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    experimental economics; group decision-making; organisational structure;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General

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