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Cheap Talk and Coordination in the Lab and in the Field: Collective Commercialization in Senegal

Author

Listed:
  • Fo Kodjo Dzinyefa Aflagah
  • Tanguy Bernard
  • Angelino Viceisza

Abstract

Coordination is central to social interactions. Theory and conventional lab experiments suggest that cheap talk/communication can enhance coordination under certain conditions. Two aspects that remain underexplored are (1) the interaction between the number of players (group size) and communication and (2) how existing findings might play out in the field. We address both of these by studying a typical naturally-occurring setting that requires coordination; that is, one where members of agricultural cooperatives seek to jointly sell their output. Combining artefactual/lab-in-the-field experiments (LFEs), natural field experiments (RCTs), surveys, and cooperative records, we find that (1) revealing farmers' intended sales (i.e., cheap talk/communication) yields enhanced collective commercialization (i.e., coordination), particularly in larger groups; (2) such cheap talk may lead to higher incomes for small-scale farmers; (3) participants transfer learning from the LFEs thus affecting subsequent behavior in the RCTs (i.e., the day-to-day environment). Our results contribute to existing literature by highlighting the potential for cheap-talk institutions to (1) boost coordination, particularly in settings with greater strategic uncertainty (e.g., larger farmer cooperatives), and (2) promote collective entrepreneurship and development.

Suggested Citation

  • Fo Kodjo Dzinyefa Aflagah & Tanguy Bernard & Angelino Viceisza, 2019. "Cheap Talk and Coordination in the Lab and in the Field: Collective Commercialization in Senegal," NBER Working Papers 26045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26045
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    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P32 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Collectives; Communes; Agricultural Institutions
    • Q13 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Markets and Marketing; Cooperatives; Agribusiness

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