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Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility

  • Björn Bartling
  • Urs Fischbacher

To fully understand the motives for delegating a decision right, it is important to study responsibility attributions for outcomes of delegated decisions. We conducted an experiment in which subjects were able to delegate the choice between a fair or unfair allocation, and used a punishment option to elicit responsibility attributions. Our results show that, first, responsibility attribution can be effectively shifted and, second, this constitutes a powerful motive for the delegation of a decision right. Furthermore, we propose a formal measure of responsibility and show that this measure outperforms measures based on outcome or intention in predicting punishment behavior.

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Paper provided by Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz in its series TWI Research Paper Series with number 32.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0032
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