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Do the Selfish Mimic Cooperators? Experimental Evidence from Finitely-Repeated Labor Markets

Author

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  • Roe, Brian E.

    () (Ohio State University)

  • Wu, Steven Y.

    () (Purdue University)

Abstract

Experimental studies have consistently shown that cooperative outcomes can emerge even in finitely repeated games. Such outcomes are justified by existing reputation building models, which suggest that cooperative outcomes can be sustained if some subjects have other-regarding preferences. While the existence of other-regarding preferences is typically used to justify experimental outcomes, we are unaware of empirical studies that explicitly examine the interaction between cooperators (those with other-regarding preferences) and selfish subjects in sustaining cooperation. In this paper, we classify subjects as either selfish or cooperative using simple social preference games and then test for behavioral differences between the two types in a finitely-repeated labor market with unenforceable worker effort. Theory predicts, and our data confirms, that (1) selfish players mimic the actions of cooperators when trading partners can track the individual reputation of past partners and (2) selfish and cooperative types act differently when individual reputations cannot be tracked.

Suggested Citation

  • Roe, Brian E. & Wu, Steven Y., 2009. "Do the Selfish Mimic Cooperators? Experimental Evidence from Finitely-Repeated Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 4084, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4084
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2012. "Competition And Relational Contracts: The Role Of Unemployment As A Disciplinary Device," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 887-907, August.
    2. Brown, Martin & Serra-García, Marta, 2014. "The Threat of Exclusion and Implicit Contracting," Working Papers on Finance 1407, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance, revised Jun 2016.
    3. Cordero Salas, Paula, 2013. "Cooperation and reciprocity in carbon sequestration contracts," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6521, The World Bank.
    4. Ana I. Balsa & Michael T. French & Tracy L. Regan, 2012. "Relative Deprivation and Risky Behaviors," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1203, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
    5. Dasgupta Utteeyo, 2011. "Are Entry Threats Always Credible?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-41, December.
    6. Brown, Martin & Serra-Garcia, Marta, 2011. "The Threat of Exclusion and Relational Contracting," Discussion Papers in Economics 12287, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    7. Caleb Cox & Matthew Jones & Kevin Pflum & Paul Healy, 2015. "Revealed reputations in the finitely repeated prisoners’ dilemma," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 58(3), pages 441-484, April.
    8. repec:eee:jeborg:v:147:y:2018:i:c:p:76-94 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Brown, M. & Serra Garcia, M., 2010. "Relational Contracting Under the Threat of Expropriation – Experimental Evidence," Discussion Paper 2010-85, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    contracts; relational contracts; implicit contracts; market interaction; experimental economics; repeated transaction; social preferences; reputation; firm latitude; finitely-repeated games;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law

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