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The roles of incentives and voluntary cooperation for contractual compliance

  • Simon Gaechter


    (University of Nottingham)

  • Esther Kessler


    (University College London)

  • Manfred Koenigstein


    (Universitaet Erfurt)

Efficiency under contractual incompleteness often requires voluntary cooperation in situations where self-regarding incentives for contractual compliance are present as well. Here we provide a comprehensive experimental analysis based on the gift-exchange game of how explicit and implicit incentives affect cooperation. We first show that there is substantial cooperation under non-incentive compatible contracts. Incentive-compatible contracts induce best-reply effort and crowd out any voluntary cooperation. Further experiments show that this result is robust to two important variables: experiencing Trust contracts without any incentives and implicit incentives coming from repeated interaction. Implicit incentives have a strong positive effect on effort only under non-incentive compatible contracts.

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Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2011-06.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdx:dpaper:2011-06
Contact details of provider: Postal: University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD
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