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Leadership in Teams: Signaling or Reciprocating ?


  • Claude Meidinger

    (TEAM - Théories et Applications en Microéconomie et Macroéconomie - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    () (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


How does leadership work in teams? In this paper, leadership is grounded on both the possession of a private information by the leader and by her ability to communicate credibly with followers in order to induce them to expand high efforts. This paper reports an experiment testing the efficiency of two costly communication devices introduced by Hermalin (1998): leading-by-example and leading-by-sacrifice. In leading-by-example, the leader's effort is observable by the follower. Experimental evidence shows that leadership works more through reciprocity than through signaling. In leading-by-sacrifice, the leader can give up a part of her payoff. Experimental evidence indicates that this sacrifice works as a truthful signaling device when it is lost for the follower but not when it is transferred to him.

Suggested Citation

  • Claude Meidinger & Marie Claire Villeval, 2002. "Leadership in Teams: Signaling or Reciprocating ?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00178474, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00178474
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. van der Heijden, Eline & Potters, Jan & Sefton, Martin, 2009. "Hierarchy and opportunism in teams," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 39-50, January.
    2. Emrah Arbak & Marie Claire Villeval, 2006. "Endogenous Leadership Selection and Influence," Post-Print halshs-00175479, HAL.
    3. Jan Potters & Martin Sefton & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Leading-by-example and signaling in voluntary contribution games: an experimental study," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 169-182, October.
    4. Guth, Werner & Levati, M. Vittoria & Sutter, Matthias & van der Heijden, Eline, 2007. "Leading by example with and without exclusion power in voluntary contribution experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 1023-1042, June.
    5. Potters, Jan & Sefton, Martin & Vesterlund, Lise, 2005. "After you--endogenous sequencing in voluntary contribution games," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1399-1419, August.
    6. Paul Muller, 2006. "Reputation, trust and the dynamics of leadership in communities of practice," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 10(4), pages 381-400, November.
    7. Centorrino, Samuele & Concina, Laura, 2013. "A Competitive Approach to Leadership in Public Good Games," LERNA Working Papers 13.02.389, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    8. Christian Zehnder & Holger Herz & Jean-Philippe Bonardi, 2016. "A Productive Clash of Cultures: Injecting Economics into Leadership Research," CESifo Working Paper Series 6175, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Pablo Hernandez & Dylan Minor & Dana Sisak, 2015. "Do People Who Care About Others Cooperate More? Experimental Evidence from Relative Incentive Pay," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-040, Harvard Business School.
    10. Asiedu, Edward & Ibanez, Marcela, 2014. "The weaker sex? Gender differences in punishment across Matrilineal and Patriarchal Societies," Discussion Papers 165743, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    11. Gürerk, Özgür & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Rockenbach, Bettina, 2009. "Motivating teammates: The leader's choice between positive and negative incentives," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 591-607, August.
    12. Levy, David M. & Padgitt, Kail & Peart, Sandra J. & Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte, 2011. "Leadership, cheap talk and really cheap talk," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 40-52, January.
    13. Klor, Esteban F. & Kube, Sebastian & Winter, Eyal & Zultan, Ro’i, 2014. "Can higher rewards lead to less effort? Incentive reversal in teams," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 72-83.
    14. Philip J. Grossman & Mana Komai & James E. Jensen, 2015. "Leadership and gender in groups: An experiment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(1), pages 368-388, February.
    15. Mana Komai & Philip J. Grossman & Evelyne Benie, 2017. "Leadership and the effective choice of information regime," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 82(1), pages 117-129, January.
    16. Gangadharan, Lata & Jain, Tarun & Maitra, Pushkar & Vecci, Joseph, 2016. "Social identity and governance: The behavioral response to female leaders," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 302-325.


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