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Reciprocity and Resistance to Comprehensive Reform

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  • Urs Fischbacher
  • Simeon Schudy

Abstract

Comprehensive reforms often fail or become piecemeal during preparatory phase of the legislation. A promising candidate to explain the failure of comprehensive reforms is vote trading on a subset of individual bills included in the original comprehensive reform. When legislators expect profitable vote trading on a subset of bills to be possible, they may ex ante strategically block comprehensive reforms. We analyze in a laboratory experiment whether trust and reciprocity among legislators leads to vote trading in sequential bill by bill procedures when commitment devices are missing and whether such vote trading possibilities cause resistance to comprehensive reform. We find that (i) transparent voting procedures facilitate vote trading based on trust in other legislators' reciprocity whereas (ii) secretive procedures reduce trust in others' reciprocity and makes vote trades difficult. (iii) Resistance to comprehensive reform occurs when legislators know that the alternative procedure to voting on the comprehensive reform is a transparent sequential bill by bill voting procedure, whereas (iv) legislators opt for voting on a comprehensive reform when the alternative procedure is a sequential secret ballot.

Suggested Citation

  • Urs Fischbacher & Simeon Schudy, 2010. "Reciprocity and Resistance to Comprehensive Reform," TWI Research Paper Series 51, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
  • Handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0051
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandra Casella & Thomas Palfrey, 2015. "Trading Votes for Votes. A Decentralized Matching Algorithm," NBER Working Papers 21645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Comprehensive Reform; Sequential Voting; Vote Trading; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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