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Cooperation in Small Groups: The Effect of Group Size

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  • Daniele Nosenzo

    () (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

  • Simone Quercia

    () (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

  • Martin Sefton

    () (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

Abstract

We study the effect of group size on cooperation in voluntary contribution mechanism games. As in previous experiments, we study four- and eight-person groups in high and low marginal per capita return (MPCR) conditions. We find a positive effect of group size in the low MPCR condition, as in previous experiments. However, in the high MPCR condition we observe a negative group size effect. We extend the design to investigate two- and three-person groups in the high MPCR condition, and find that cooperation is highest of all in two-person groups. The findings in the high MPCR condition are consistent with those from n-person prisoner’s dilemma and oligopoly experiments that suggest it is more difficult to sustain cooperation in larger groups. The findings from the low MPCR condition suggest that this effect can be overridden. In particular, when cooperation is low other factors, such as considerations of the social benefits of contributing (which increase with group size), may dominate any negative group size effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniele Nosenzo & Simone Quercia & Martin Sefton, 2013. "Cooperation in Small Groups: The Effect of Group Size," Discussion Papers 2013-05, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2013-05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kamei, Kenju, 2018. "Group Size Effect and Over-Punishment in the Case of Third Party Enforcement of Social Norms," MPRA Paper 85713, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Nicklisch, Andreas & Grechenig, Kristoffel & Thöni, Christian, 2016. "Information-sensitive Leviathans," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 1-13.
    3. Hiroki Ozono & Yoshio Kamijo & Kazumi Shimizu, 2015. "Institutionalize reciprocity to overcome the public goods provision problem," Working Papers 1509, Waseda University, Faculty of Political Science and Economics.
    4. Goeschl, Timo & Kettner, Sara Elisa & Lohse, Johannes & Schwieren, Christiane, 2015. "What do we learn from public good games about voluntary climate action? Evidence from an artefactual field experiment," Working Papers 0595, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    5. Ye-Feng Chen & Shu-Guang Jiang & Marie Claire Villeval, 2015. "The Tragedy of Corruption. Corruption as a social dilemma," Working Papers 1531, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    6. Lucija Muehlenbachs & Stefan Staubli & Mark A. Cohen, 2016. "The Impact of Team Inspections on Enforcement and Deterrence," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 159-204.
    7. Gallier, Carlo & Goeschl, Timo & Kesternich, Martin & Lohse, Johannes & Reif, Christiane & Römer, Daniel, 2017. "Leveling up? An inter-neighborhood experiment on parochialism and the efficiency of multi-level public goods provision," Working Papers 0630, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    8. Chen, Yefeng & Jiang, Shuguang & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2016. "The Tragedy of Corruption," IZA Discussion Papers 10175, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. repec:pal:palcom:v:4:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-018-0146-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Duffy, John & Xie, Huan, 2016. "Group size and cooperation among strangers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 55-74.
    11. Markus Sass & Joachim Weimann, 2015. "The Peculiar Power of Pairs," CESifo Working Paper Series 5246, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. Lugovskyy, Volodymyr & Puzzello, Daniela & Sorensen, Andrea & Walker, James & Williams, Arlington, 2017. "An experimental study of finitely and infinitely repeated linear public goods games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 286-302.
    13. Alger, Ingela & Weibull, Jörgen W., 2016. "Morality: evolutionary foundations and policy implications," TSE Working Papers 16-702, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    14. repec:spr:inrvec:v:64:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s12232-017-0270-y is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Hannes Rusch, 2015. "Ancestral kinship patterns substantially reduce the negative effect of increasing group size on incentives for public goods provision," Working Paper Series in Economics 82, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
    16. Wolff, Irenaeus, 2017. "What are the equilibria in public-good experiments?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 83-85.
    17. repec:eee:joepsy:v:64:y:2018:i:c:p:105-115 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Irenaeus Wolff, 2016. "What are the equilibria in linear public-good experiments?," TWI Research Paper Series 105, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    19. Feltovich, Nick & Grossman, Philip J., 2015. "How does the effect of pre-play suggestions vary with group size? Experimental evidence from a threshold public-good game," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 263-280.
    20. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2015. "The role of frames, numbers and risk in the frequency of cooperation," Economics Working Papers 1501, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    21. Graf Lambsdorff, Johann & Giamattei, Marcus & Werner, Katharina & Schubert, Manuel, 2016. "Emotion vs. cognition - Experimental evidence on cooperation from the 2014 Soccer World Cup," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-72-16, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    22. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:218-231 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Joachim Weimann & Jeannette Brosig-Koch & Timo Heinrich & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Claudia Keser & Christian Stahr, 2014. "An Explanation of (First Round) Contributions in Public-Good Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 5039, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    voluntary contribution mechanism; cooperation; group size;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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