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Organizations, Diffused Pivotality and Immoral Outcomes


  • Armin Falk
  • Nora Szech


This paper studies how organizational design affects moral outcomes. Subjects face the decision to either kill mice for money or to save mice. We compare a Baseline treatment where subjects are fully pivotal to a Diffused-Pivotality treatment where subjects simultaneously choose in groups of eight. In the latter condition eight mice are killed if at least one subject opts for killing. The fraction of subjects deciding to kill is higher when pivotality is diffused. The likelihood of killing is monotone in subjective perceptions of pivotality. On an aggregate level many more mice are killed in Diffused-Pivotality than Baseline.

Suggested Citation

  • Armin Falk & Nora Szech, 2013. "Organizations, Diffused Pivotality and Immoral Outcomes," CESifo Working Paper Series 4300, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4300

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
    2. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    3. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
    4. John R. Hamman & George Loewenstein & Roberto A. Weber, 2010. "Self-Interest through Delegation: An Additional Rationale for the Principal-Agent Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1826-1846, September.
    5. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2012. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 67-87.
    6. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bartling, Björn & Fischbacher, Urs & Schudy, Simeon, 2015. "Pivotality and responsibility attribution in sequential voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 133-139.
    2. Deckers, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Kosse, Fabian & Szech, Nora, 2016. "Homo moralis: Personal characteristics, institutions, and moral decision-making," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2016-302, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. Szech, Nora & Rothenhäusler, Dominik & Schweizer, Nikolaus, 2014. "Institutions, Shared Guilt, and Moral Transgression," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100518, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Falk, Armin & Szech, Nora, 2015. "Institutions and morals: A reply," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 391-394.

    More about this item


    morality; pivotality; experiment; organization;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement


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