IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/twi/respas/0032.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility

Author

Listed:
  • Bj�rn Bartling
  • Urs Fischbacher

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bj�rn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2008. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," TWI Research Paper Series 32, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
  • Handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0032
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.twi-kreuzlingen.ch/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/twi-rps-032-bartling-fischbacher-2008-07.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
    2. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    3. Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2004. "Strategic delegation in experimental markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 561-574, April.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    5. Patrick Bolton & Mathias Dewatripont, 2005. "Contract Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262025760, December.
    6. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    7. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
    8. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
    9. Morris Fiorina, 1982. "Legislative choice of regulatory forms: Legal process or administrative process?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 33-66, January.
    10. Dirk Sliwka, 2006. "On the Notion of Responsibility in Organizations," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(2), pages 523-547, October.
    11. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2005. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," International Economic Association Series, in: Bina Agarwal & Alessandro Vercelli (ed.), Psychology, Rationality and Economic Behaviour, chapter 2, pages 19-57, Palgrave Macmillan.
    12. Charness, Gary, 2000. "Responsibility and effort in an experimental labor market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 375-384, July.
    13. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    14. repec:ner:ucllon:http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/17678/ is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    16. Schotter, Andrew & Zheng, Wei & Snyder, Blaine, 2000. "Bargaining Through Agents: An Experimental Study of Delegation and Commitment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 248-292, February.
    17. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
    18. Fiorina, Morris P, 1986. "Legislator Uncertainty, Legislative Control, and the Delegation of Legislative Power," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(1), pages 33-51, Spring.
    19. Jones, Stephen R. G., 1989. "Have your lawyer call my lawyer : Bilateral delegation in bargaining situations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 159-174, March.
    20. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
    21. Fershtman, Chaim & Gneezy, Uri, 2001. "Strategic Delegation: An Experiment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 352-368, Summer.
    22. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    23. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    24. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
    25. Edward Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto Weber, 2006. "Sorting, Prices, and Social Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    27. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    28. John R. Hamman & George Loewenstein & Roberto A. Weber, 2010. "Self-Interest through Delegation: An Additional Rationale for the Principal-Agent Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1826-1846, September.
    29. Manove, Michael, 1997. "Job Responsibility, Pay and Promotion," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 85-103, January.
    30. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    31. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
    32. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    33. Roland Vaubel, 1986. "A public choice approach to international organization," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 51(1), pages 39-57, January.
    34. Dana, Jason & Cain, Daylian M. & Dawes, Robyn M., 2006. "What you don't know won't hurt me: Costly (but quiet) exit in dictator games," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 193-201, July.
    35. Prendergast, Canice J, 1995. "A Theory of Responsibility in Organizations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 387-400, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Zachary Grossman, 2014. "Strategic Ignorance and the Robustness of Social Preferences," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(11), pages 2659-2665, November.
    2. Randolph Sloof & Ferdinand von Siemens, 2015. "Decision Initiation, Decision Implementation, and the Allocation of Decision Rights," CESifo Working Paper Series 5509, CESifo.
    3. Grossman, Zachary & Oexl, Regine, 2011. "Delegating to a Powerless Intermediary: Does It Reduce Punishment?," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0119d201, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    4. Simon Gächter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2013. "Peer Effects In Pro-Social Behavior: Social Norms Or Social Preferences?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 548-573, June.
    5. Cox, James C. & Friedman, Daniel & Gjerstad, Steven, 2007. "A tractable model of reciprocity and fairness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 17-45, April.
    6. Christian Thoeni & Simon Gaechter, 2011. "Peer Effects and Social Preferences in Voluntary Cooperation," Discussion Papers 2011-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    7. Thöni, Christian & Gächter, Simon, 2015. "Peer effects and social preferences in voluntary cooperation: A theoretical and experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 72-88.
    8. Bartling, Björn & Grieder, Manuel & Zehnder, Christian, 2017. "Competitive pricing reduces wasteful counterproductive behaviors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 34-47.
    9. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism – Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 66, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    10. Conrads, Julian & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2013. "Strategic ignorance in ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 104-115.
    11. Snir, Avichai, 2014. "When choosing to be almost certain of winning can be better than choosing to win with certainty," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 135-146.
    12. Engelmann, Dirk & Fischbacher, Urs, 2009. "Indirect reciprocity and strategic reputation building in an experimental helping game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 399-407, November.
    13. Barmettler, Franziska & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2012. "Big experimenter is watching you! Anonymity and prosocial behavior in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 17-34.
    14. Andrea Essl & Frauke von Bieberstein & Michael Kosfeld & Markus Kröll, 2018. "Sales Performance and Social Preferences," CESifo Working Paper Series 7030, CESifo.
    15. Argenton, Cédric & Potters, Jan & Yang, Yadi, 2023. "Receiving credit: On delegation and responsibility," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).
    16. Leibbrandt, Andreas & López-Pérez, Raúl, 2012. "An exploration of third and second party punishment in ten simple games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 753-766.
    17. Bierbrauer, Felix & Ockenfels, Axel & Pollak, Andreas & Rückert, Désirée, 2017. "Robust mechanism design and social preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 59-80.
    18. Nicklisch, Andreas & Wolff, Irenaeus, 2012. "On the nature of reciprocity: Evidence from the ultimatum reciprocity measure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 892-905.
    19. Erik O. Kimbrough & Alexander Vostroknutov, 2016. "Norms Make Preferences Social," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 608-638, June.
    20. Brownback, Andy & Kuhn, Michael A., 2019. "Understanding outcome bias," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 342-360.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    delegation; decision rights; moral responsibility; blame shifting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0032. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Urs Fischbacher (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/twikrch.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.