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Do managers reciprocate? Field experimental evidence from a competitive market

  • Christian Thoni
  • Michel Marechal

A substantive amount of lab experimental evidence suggests that the norm of reciprocity has important economic consequences. However, it is unclear whether the norm of reciprocity survives in a natural and competitive environment with experienced agents. For this purpose we analyze data from a natural field experiment conducted with sales representatives who were instructed to randomly distribute product samples as gifts to their business partners. We find that distributing gifts to store managers boosts sales revenue substantially, which is consistent with the notion of reciprocity. However, the results underline that the nature of the relationship between market participants crucially affects the prevalence of reciprocal behavior.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00310.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00310
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  1. 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.
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  13. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman, 2005. "Subsidizing charitable contributions: A field test comparing matching and rebate subsidies," Framed Field Experiments 00145, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. Fehr, Ernst, et al, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-51, April.
  15. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
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  17. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  18. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and Contract Design," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 67, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  19. Charness, Gary & Haruvy, Ernan & Sonsino, Doron, 2007. "Social distance and reciprocity: An Internet experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 88-103, May.
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