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Workers' propensity to cooperate with colleagues and the general population: a comparison based on a field experiment

  • Giacomo Degli Antoni


    (University of Parma, Department of Law)

Experimental evidence shows that people tend to be more cooperative with persons belonging to their own group than with others. Strangely enough, this literature largely fails to consider a type of group pervasive in modern societies: colleagues belonging to the same productive organization. This is particularly curious if one considers the importance of cooperation among colleagues for the economic performance of organizations. This paper carries out an original experimental analysis which compares the level of cooperation of social cooperative workers when they are paired with colleagues and with people from the general population. In contrast with the literature on in-group favoritism, we find that workers trust their colleagues less and cooperate less with them than they do with people from the general public, even though, in absolute terms, the level of cooperation is quite high also among colleagues. By analyzing first- and second-order beliefs, we show that the difference in cooperation is partly mediated by expectations concerning the counterpart's behavior, since workers expect their colleagues to be less cooperative than members of the general public. However, the analysis reveals that also other motivations count, such as other-regarding preferences and warm glow.

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Paper provided by Econometica in its series Econometica Working Papers with number wp50.

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Length: 17
Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ent:wpaper:wp50
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Bernhard von Rosenbladt & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2002. "A Nation-Wide Laboratory: Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioral Experiments into Representative Surveys," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 319, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  3. Frey, Bruno S, 1992. "Tertium Datur: Pricing, Regulating and Intrinsic Motivation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 161-84.
  4. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  5. Fabio Sabatini & Francesca Modena & Ermanno Tortia, 2012. "“Do cooperative enterprises create social trust?," Euricse Working Papers 1243, Euricse (European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises).
  6. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  7. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  8. Margit Osterloh & Bruno Frey & Jetta Frost, 2001. "Managing Motivation, Organization and Governance," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 5(3), pages 231-239, September.
  9. Carlo Borzaga, 2013. "Social enterprise," Chapters, in: Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise, chapter 32, pages 318-326 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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