IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

One Step at a Time: Does Gradualism Build Coordination?

  • Sam Asher
  • Lorenzo Casaburi
  • Plamen Nikolov

    ()

    (Harvard University)

We study how gradualism -- increasing required levels (“thresholds”) of contributions slowly over time rather than requiring a high level of contribution immediately -- affects individuals’ decisions to contribute to a public project. Using a laboratory binary choice minimum-effort coordination game, we randomly assign participants to three treatments: starting and continuing at a high threshold, starting at a low threshold but jumping to a high threshold after a few periods, and starting at a low threshold and gradually increasing the threshold over time (the “gradualism” treatment). We find that individuals coordinate most successfully at the high threshold in the gradualism treatment relative to the other two groups. We propose a theory based on belief updating to explain why gradualism works. We also discuss alternative explanations such as reinforcement learning, conditional cooperation, inertia, preference for consistency, and limited attention. Our findings point to a simple, voluntary mechanism to promote successful coordination when the capacity to impose sanctions is limited.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.fundp.ac.be/eco/economie/recherche/wpseries/wp/1113.pdf
File Function: First version, 2011
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Namur, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1113.

as
in new window

Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nam:wpaper:1113
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Rempart de la Vierge 8, B-5000 Namur

Phone: ++32/(0)81/72.48.53
Fax: ++32/(0)81/72.48.40
Web page: http://www.fundp.ac.be/en/eco

More information through EDIRC

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.:

as in new window
  1. Cooper, Russell, et al, 1990. "Selection Criteria in Coordination Games: Some Experimental Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 218-33, March.
  2. Gale, Douglas, 1995. "Dynamic Coordination Games," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 5(1), pages 1-18, January.
  3. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
  4. Masclet, D. & Noussair, C. & Tucker, S. & Villeval, M.C., 2001. "Monetary and Non-monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1141, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  5. Schram, Arthur & Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep, 2008. "Explaining the Comparative Statics in Step-Level Public Good Games," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  6. Andreoni,J. & Samuelson,L., 2003. "Building rational cooperation," Working papers 4, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  7. Van Huyck, John B & Battalio, Raymond C & Beil, Richard O, 1990. "Tacit Coordination Games, Strategic Uncertainty, and Coordination Failure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 234-48, March.
  8. Russell Cooper & Douglas V. DeJong & Robert Forsythe & Thomas W. Ross, 1992. "Communication in Coordination Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 739-771.
  9. John B. Van Huyck & Raymond C. Battalio & Richard O. Beil, 1991. "Strategic Uncertainty, Equilibrium Selection, and Coordination Failure in Average Opinion Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(3), pages 885-910.
  10. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gachter, 2010. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 541-56, March.
  11. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  12. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2006. "A Change Would Do You Good .... An Experimental Study on How to Overcome Coordination Failure in Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 669-693, June.
  13. Clark, Kenneth & Sefton, Martin, 2001. "Repetition and signalling: experimental evidence from games with efficient equilibria," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 357-362, March.
  14. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
  15. Iris Bohnet & Steffen Huck, 2004. "Repetition and Reputation: Implications for Trust and Trustworthiness When Institutions Change," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-09, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  16. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2004. "Observability and Overcoming Coordination Failure in Organizations. An Experimental Study," Working Papers 143, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  17. Oliver Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2002. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2002-29, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  18. Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur, 1996. "Value Orientations, Expectations and Voluntary Contributions in Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 817-45, July.
  19. Bagnoli, Mark & McKee, Michael, 1991. "Voluntary Contribution Games: Efficient Private Provision of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 351-66, April.
  20. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  22. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard Thaler, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
  23. Richard Cornes & Roger Hartley, 2006. "Weak Links, Good Shots and other PublicGood Games: Building on BBV," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 0624, Economics, The University of Manchester.
  24. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
  25. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
  26. Syngjoo Choi & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2006. "Sequential Equilibrium in Monotone Games: Theory-Based Analysis of Experimental Data," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000278, UCLA Department of Economics.
  27. Bornstein, Gary & Gneezy, Uri & Nagel, Rosmarie, 2002. "The effect of intergroup competition on group coordination: an experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 1-25, October.
  28. Ostrom, Elinor, 2009. "Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2009-4, Nobel Prize Committee.
  29. Kyle Hydman & Antoine Terracol & Jonathan Vaksmann, 2009. "Learning and Sophistication in Coordination Games," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00607232, HAL.
  30. Rutström, E. Elisabet & Wilcox, Nathaniel T., 2009. "Stated beliefs versus inferred beliefs: A methodological inquiry and experimental test," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 616-632, November.
  31. Joel Watson, 1999. "Starting Small and Commitment," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1217, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  32. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
  33. R. Isaac & David Schmidtz & James Walker, 1989. "The assurance problem in a laboratory market," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 62(3), pages 217-236, September.
  34. Gérard P. Cachon & Colin F. Camerer, 1996. "Loss-Avoidance and Forward Induction in Experimental Coordination Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 165-194.
  35. Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter, 2002. "An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 971-1005, May.
  36. John O. Ledyard, 1994. "Public Goods: A Survey of Experimental Research," Public Economics 9405003, EconWPA, revised 22 May 1994.
  37. Gale, Douglas, 1998. "Monotone Games with Positive Spillovers," Working Papers 98-34, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  38. R. McKelvey & T. Palfrey, 2010. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 510, David K. Levine.
  39. Lockwood, B. & Thomas, J.P., 1999. "Gradualism and Irreversibility," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 525, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  40. Miguel A. Costa-Gomes & Georg Weizsäcker, 2004. "Stated Beliefs and Play in Normal-Form Games," ISER Discussion Paper 0614, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  41. Thomas Riechmann & Joachim Weimann, 2004. "Competition as a Coordination Device. Experimental Evidence from a Minimum Effort Coordination Game," Game Theory and Information 0405011, EconWPA.
  42. Jack Hirshleifer, 1983. "From weakest-link to best-shot: The voluntary provision of public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 371-386, January.
  43. Tingley, Dustin H. & Wang, Stephanie W., 2010. "Belief Updating in Sequential Games of Two-Sided Incomplete Information: An Experimental Study of a Crisis Bargaining Model," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 5(3), pages 243-255, December.
  44. Pitchford, Rohan & Snyder, Christopher M., 2004. "A solution to the hold-up problem involving gradual investment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 88-103, January.
  45. Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur, 2001. "Expectation Formation in Step-Level Public Good Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 250-69, April.
  46. Marks, Melanie B & Croson, Rachel T A, 1999. "The Effect of Incomplete Information in a Threshold Public Goods Experiment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 103-18, April.
  47. Berninghaus, Siegfried K. & Ehrhart, Karl-Martin, 1998. "Time horizon and equilibrium selection in tacit coordination games: Experimental results," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 231-248, October.
  48. Robert Kurzban & Mary Rigdon & Bart Wilson, 2008. "Incremental approaches to establishing trust," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(4), pages 370-389, December.
  49. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
  50. Marks, Melanie & Croson, Rachel, 1998. "Alternative rebate rules in the provision of a threshold public good: An experimental investigation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 195-220, February.
  51. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
  52. Russell Cooper & Andrew John, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-463.
  53. V. Crawford, 2010. "Adaptive Dynamics in Coordination Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 404, David K. Levine.
  54. Mark Bagnoli & Barton L. Lipman, 1989. "Provision of Public Goods: Fully Implementing the Core through Private Contributions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 583-601.
  55. Pedro Rey-Biel, . "Equilibrium Play and Best Response to (Stated) Beliefs in Normal Form Games," Working Papers 318, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  56. Charness, Gary, 2000. "Self-Serving Cheap Talk: A Test Of Aumann's Conjecture," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 177-194, November.
  57. Rachel Croson & Melanie Marks, 2000. "Step Returns in Threshold Public Goods: A Meta- and Experimental Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(3), pages 239-259, March.
  58. Roberto A. Weber, 2006. "Managing Growth to Achieve Efficient Coordination in Large Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 114-126, March.
  59. Duffy, John & Feltovich, Nick, 2002. "Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words? An Experimental Comparison of Observation and Cheap Talk," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-27, April.
  60. Colin Camerer & Teck-Hua Ho, 1999. "Experience-weighted Attraction Learning in Normal Form Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 827-874, July.
  61. Weber, Roberto & Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc, 1996. "The Illusion of Leadership," Working Papers 992, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  62. Ananish Chaudhuri & Andrew Schotter & Barry Sopher, 2009. "Talking Ourselves to Efficiency: Coordination in Inter-Generational Minimum Effort Games with Private, Almost Common and Common Knowledge of Advice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 91-122, 01.
  63. Watson, Joel, 1999. "Starting Small and Renegotiation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 52-90, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nam:wpaper:1113. 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: (Marie-Helene Mathieu)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.