The impact of group membership on cooperation and norm enforcement: evidence using random assignment to real social groups
Due to incomplete contracts, efficiency of an organization depends on willingness of individuals to take non-selfish actions, such as cooperating when there is no incentive to do so or punishing inefficient actions by others. Organizations also constitute a social boundary, or group. We investigate whether this social aspect of organizations has an important benefit— fostering unselfish cooperation and norm enforcement within the group—but also whether there is a dark side, in the form of hostility between groups. Our experiment provides the first evidence free from the confounding effect of self-selection into groups. Individuals are randomly assigned to different platoons during a four-week period of officer training in the Swiss Army. We conduct choice experiments—simultaneous prisoner’s dilemma games, with and without third-party punishment—in week three. Random assignment significantly increases willingness to cooperate with fellow platoon members. Assignment does not lead to hostility, in the sense of vindictive punishment of outsiders, but does affect norm enforcement, enhancing willingness to enforce a norm of cooperation towards fellow platoon members. This suggests that the social aspect of organizations motivates efficient behavior even when ordinary incentives fail and helps to explain practices designed to foster social ties or group identification within an organization.
|Date of creation:||2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.bos.frb.org/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:|| Email: |
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
- La Porta, Rafael, et al, 1997.
"Trust in Large Organizations,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 333-38, May.
- Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, .
"Third Party Punishment and Social Norms,"
IEW - Working Papers
106, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Durlauf,S.N., 1999. "The case "against" social capital," Working papers 29, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
- George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
- Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
- Bornhorst, Fabian & Ichino, Andrea & Schlag, Karl & Winter, Eyal, 2004. "Trust and Trustworthiness Among Europeans: South-North Comparison," CEPR Discussion Papers 4378, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, .
"Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment,"
IEW - Working Papers
016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
- Rachel T. A. Croson, 2007. "Theories Of Commitment, Altruism And Reciprocity: Evidence From Linear Public Goods Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 199-216, 04.
- Helen Bernhard & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2006. "Group Affiliation and Altruistic Norm Enforcement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 217-221, May.
- Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
- Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990.
"Peer Pressure and Partnerships,"
90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
- Rafael Rob & Peter Zemsky, 2002.
"Social Capital, Corporate Culture, and Incentive Intensity,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(2), pages 243-257, Summer.
- Rafael Rob & Peter Zemsky, . "Social Capital, Corporate Culture and Incentive Intensity," Penn CARESS Working Papers 7380c2f90d0b2f362ad71f139, Penn Economics Department.
- Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:06-7. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Catherine Spozio)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.