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Social responsibility in market interaction

Listed author(s):
  • Bernd Irlenbusch

    (University of Cologne)

  • David J. Saxler

    (University of Cologne)

Registered author(s):

    A recent debate raises the question whether market interaction erodes social responsibility. In an experiment, we disentangle three major characteristics of market interaction, diffusion of responsibility, social information, and market framing, and provide evidence for how these characteristics influence behavior when trade harms uninvolved parties. We model the negative externalities from trade by reducing donations to a charity that provides meals to needy children. Our results show that diffusion of responsibility tends to encourage subjects to make purely self-interested decisions. This holds to a much larger extent if the economic transaction is framed as a market. In contrast, social information increases social responsibility in our setting. Observing the behavior of others seems to convince a substantial fraction of people to behave steadfastly, i.e., they avoid trading a good that comes with negative externalities, even if gains from trade are high.

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    File URL: http://www.cgs.uni-koeln.de/fileadmin/wiso_fak/cgs/pdf/working_paper/cgswp_06-05.pdf
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    Paper provided by Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences in its series Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series with number 06-05.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2015
    Handle: RePEc:cgr:cgsser:06-05
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    Web page: http://www.cgs.uni-koeln.de/
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    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    2. Mathieu Lefebvre & Pierre Pestieau & Arno Riedl & Marie Villeval, 2015. "Tax evasion and social information: an experiment in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(3), pages 401-425, June.
    3. Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Does Competition Destroy Ethical Behavior?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 414-418, May.
    4. Björn Bartling & Roberto A. Weber & Lan Yao, 2015. "Do Markets Erode Social Responsibility?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(1), pages 219-266.
    5. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Rilke, Rainer Michael & Walkowitz, Gari, 2013. "Lying and team incentives," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 1-7.
    6. 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.
    7. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 251-278, October.
    11. Timothy Besley, 2013. "What's the Good of the Market? An Essay on Michael Sandel's What Money Can't Buy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 478-495, June.
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