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Leadership in a Weak-Link Game


  • Joris Gillet
  • Edward Cartwright


  • Mark Van Vugt


We investigate, experimentally, the effects of leadership in a four player weak-link game. A weak-link game is a coordination game with multiple Pareto-ranked Nash equilibria. Because the more efficient equilibria involve a degree of strategic uncertainty groups typically find it difficult to coordinate on more efficient equilibria. Previous studies have shown that leadership by example - in the form of one player acting publicly before the rest of the group - can lead to increased cooperation in collective action problems and we are interested in finding out whether this result extends to weak-link games. Our results suggest that leadership has no effect on initial behavior; the first time that they play the game participants behave the same with leadership as without. We also observe, however, that leadership can allow groups to raise efficiency over time and therefore overcome inefficiency. There doesn't appear to be a difference between voluntary leaders and leaders that are (randomly) appointed.

Suggested Citation

  • Joris Gillet & Edward Cartwright & Mark Van Vugt, 2009. "Leadership in a Weak-Link Game," Studies in Economics 0914, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  • Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:0914

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter H. Kriss & Roberto Weber, 2013. "Organizational formation and change: lessons from economic laboratory experiments," Chapters,in: Handbook of Economic Organization, chapter 14 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    Leadership; coordination game; weak-link game; minimum-effort game;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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