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Can Contracts Signal Social Norms? Experimental Evidence

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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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7477
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    Cited by:

    1. 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).
    2. 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.
    3. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Okemena Onemu & Joeri Sol, 2019. "Team Incentives, Social Cohesion, and Performance: A Natural Field Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-045/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant, 2018. "It's Not A Lie If You Believe It. Lying and Belief Distortion Under Norm-Uncertainty," PPE Working Papers 0012, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    5. Hernán Bejarano & Brice Corgnet & Joaquín Gómez-Miñambres, 2019. "Labor Contracts, Gift-Exchange and Reference Wages: Your Gift Need Not Be Mine!," Working Papers 19-26, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    6. Matthias Fahn, 2019. "Reciprocity in dynamic employment relationships," CESifo Working Paper Series 7634, CESifo.
    7. Brice Corgnet, 2018. "Rac(g)e Against the Machine? Social Incentives When Humans Meet Robots," Post-Print halshs-01984467, HAL.
    8. Cromwell, Erich & Goerg, Sebastian J. & Leszczynska, Monika, 2018. "More than the Money: Payoff-Irrelevant Terms in Relational Contracts," IZA Discussion Papers 11712, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Behnk, Sascha & Barreda-Tarrazona, Iván & García-Gallego, Aurora, 2019. "Deception and reputation – An experimental test of reporting systems," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 37-58.
    10. Anastasia Danilov & Kiryl Khalmetski & Dirk Sliwka, 2018. "Norms and Guilt," CESifo Working Paper Series 6999, CESifo.

    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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