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, e.g., cooperate when there is no incentive to do so, or punish 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 whether there is also a dark side, in the form of hostility between groups. Our experiment provides the first evidence without the confounding effect of self-selection into groups. Individuals are randomly assigned to different platoons during a four-week portion 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 explain practices designed to foster social ties or group identification within an organization.
|Date of creation:||Mar 2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published in: American Economic Review, 2006, 96 (2), 212-216|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
|Order Information:|| Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany|
References listed on IDEAS
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.:
- 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.
- Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001.
"Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment,"
Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
- 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.
- La Porta, Rafael, et al, 1997.
"Trust in Large Organizations,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 333-38, May.
- 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.
- Durlauf,S.N., 1999. "The case "against" social capital," Working papers 29, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- 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.
- 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.
- repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:1:p:351-377 is not listed on IDEAS
- Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
- Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, .
"Third Party Punishment and Social Norms,"
IEW - Working Papers
106, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990.
"Peer Pressure and Partnerships,"
90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
- repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:715-753 is not listed on IDEAS
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
- 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.
- repec:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:4:p:1251-88 is not listed on IDEAS
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2020. 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: (Mark Fallak)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.