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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.

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Paper provided by Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia in its series CEEL Working Papers with number 0803.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:trn:utwpce:0803
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  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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