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Can Contracts Signal Social Norms? Experimental Evidence

Author

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  • Danilov, Anastasia

    () (University of Cologne)

  • Sliwka, Dirk

    () (University of Cologne)

Abstract

We investigate whether incentive schemes signal social norms and thus affect behavior beyond their direct economic consequences. A principal-agent experiment is studied in which prior to contract choice principals are informed about past actions of other agents and thus have more information about "norms of behavior". Compared to a setting with uninformed principals agents exert nearly 50% higher efforts under a fixed wage contract when an informed principal had chosen this contract. Apparently the informed principal's choice signals a norm not to exploit the trust which leads to more trustworthy behavior. This mechanism's robustness is explored in further experiments.

Suggested Citation

  • Danilov, Anastasia & Sliwka, Dirk, 2013. "Can Contracts Signal Social Norms? Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 7477, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7477
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Christiane Bradler & Robert Dur & Susanne Neckermann & Arjan Non, 2016. "Employee Recognition and Performance: A Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3085-3099, November.
    2. Sascha Behnk & Iván Barreda-Tarrazona & Aurora García-Gallego, 2017. "An experimental test of reporting systems for deception," Working Papers 2017/11, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    3. Anastasia Danilov & Kiryl Khalmetski & Dirk Sliwka, 2018. "Norms and Guilt," CESifo Working Paper Series 6999, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social norms; contracts; incentives; signaling; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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