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Leadership and Overcoming Coordination Failure with Asymmetric Costs

  • Jordi Brandts
  • David J. Cooper
  • Enrique Fatas

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.

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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 298.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:298
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  1. Enrique Fatas & Tibor Neugebauer & Javier Perote, 2006. "Within-Team Competition In The Minimum Effort Coordination Game," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(2), pages 247-266, 06.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Van Huyck, John B & Battalio, Raymond C & Beil, Richard O, 1990. "Tacit Coordination Games, Strategic Uncertainty, and Coordination Failure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 234-48, March.
  5. Roberto A. Weber, 2006. "Managing Growth to Achieve Efficient Coordination in Large Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 114-126, March.
  6. Weber, Roberto & Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc, 1996. "The Illusion of Leadership," Working Papers 992, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  7. David Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2003. "Lessons Learned: Generalizing Learning Across Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 202-207, May.
  8. Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc & Weber, Roberto A., 1996. "Timing and Virtual Observability in Ultimatum Bargaining and Weak Link Coordination Games," Working Papers 970, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  9. Bornstein, Gary & Gneezy, Uri & Nagel, Rosmarie, 2002. "The effect of intergroup competition on group coordination: an experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 1-25, October.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
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