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Reciprocity, Exchange and Redistribution. An experimental investigation inspired by Karl Polanyi�s The Economy as Instituted Process


  • Giuseppe Danese


  • Luigi Mittone



Inspired by Karl Polanyi�s writings on three allocation modes, namely reciprocity, exchange and redistribution, we first tested a reciprocity ring with ten players. The baseline treatment, with no possibility of socialisation, displayed very low levels of allocative efficiency. Consistently with the Polanyian approach to reciprocity, we found that inducing the notion of symmetry among the players increased efficiency levels significantly. We then simulated a market exchange, with significant allocative efficiency gains. We conclude that indirect-reciprocity rings among anonymous players can seldom function in the absence of definite institutional refinements, promoting forms of symmetry-acknowledgement.

Suggested Citation

  • Giuseppe Danese & Luigi Mittone, 2008. "Reciprocity, Exchange and Redistribution. An experimental investigation inspired by Karl Polanyi�s The Economy as Instituted Process," CEEL Working Papers 0803, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  • Handle: RePEc:trn:utwpce:0803

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Greiner, Ben & Vittoria Levati, M., 2005. "Indirect reciprocity in cyclical networks: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 711-731, October.
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    Reciprocity; Redistribution; Exchange; Comparative Institutional Analysis.;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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