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Leadership and Overcoming Coordination Failure with Asymmetric Costs

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Abstract

We study how the heterogeneity of agents affects the extent to which changes in financial incentives can pull a group out of a situation of coordination failure. We focus on the connections between cost asymmetries and leadership. Experimental subjects interact in groups of four in a series of weak-link games. The treatment variable is the distribution of high and low effort cost across subjects. We present data for one, two and three low-cost subjects as well as control sessions with symmetric costs. The overall pattern of coordination improvement is common across treatments. Early coordination improvements depend on the distribution of high and low effort costs across subjects, but these differences disappear with time. We find that initial leadership in overcoming coordination failure is not driven by low-cost subjects but by subjects with the most frequent cost. This conformity effect can be due to a kind of group identity or to the cognitive simplicity of acting with identical others.

Suggested Citation

  • Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper & Enrique Fatas, 2006. "Leadership and Overcoming Coordination Failure with Asymmetric Costs," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 691.07, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:691.07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2007. "It's What You Say, Not What You Pay: An Experimental Study of Manager–Employee Relationships in Overcoming Coordination Failure," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1223-1268, December.
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    8. Knez, Marc & Camerer, Colin, 2000. "Increasing Cooperation in Prisoner's Dilemmas by Establishing a Precedent of Efficiency in Coordination Games," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 194-216, July.
    9. Blume, Andreas & Ortmann, Andreas, 2007. "The effects of costless pre-play communication: Experimental evidence from games with Pareto-ranked equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 274-290, January.
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    Keywords

    Experiments; Coordination; Organizational change; Heterogeneous agents; Leadership;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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