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Normative Conflict & Feuds: The Limits of Self-Enforcement

  • Nikos Nikiforakis
  • Charles N. Noussair
  • Tom Wilkening

A normative conflict arises when there exist multiple plausible norms of behavior. In such cases, norm enforcement can lead to a sequence of mutual retaliatory sanctions, which we refer to as a feud. We investigate the hypothesis that normative conflict enhances the likelihood of a feud in a public-good experiment. We find that punishment is much more likely to trigger counter-punishment and start a feud when there is a normative conflict, than in a setting in which no conflict exists. While the possibility of a feud sustains cooperation,the cost of feuding fully offsets the efficiency gains from increased cooperation.

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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 1120.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1120
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