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Self-Organization for Collective Action: An Experimental Study of Voting on Formal, Informal, and No Sanction Regimes

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Abstract

Entrusting the power to punish to a central authority is a hallmark of civilization. We study a collective action dilemma in which self-interest should produce a sub-optimal outcome absent sanctions for non-cooperation. We then test experimentally whether subjects make the theoretically optimal choice of a formal sanction scheme that costs less than the surplus it makes possible, or instead opt for the use of informal sanctions or no sanctions. Most groups adopt formal sanctions when they are of deterrent magnitude and cost a small fraction (10%) of the potential surplus. Contrary to the standard theoretical prediction, however, most groups choose informal sanctions when formal sanctions are more costly (40% of the surplus). Being adopted by voting appears to enhance the efficiency of both informal sanctions and non-deterrent formal sanctions.

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  • Jean-Robert Tyran & Thomas Markussen & Louis Putterman, 2011. "Self-Organization for Collective Action: An Experimental Study of Voting on Formal, Informal, and No Sanction Regimes," Vienna Economics Papers 1103, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:vie:viennp:1103
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    Cited by:

    1. Riedel, Nadine & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2013. "Asymmetric obligations," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 67-80.
    2. Galbiati, Roberto & Schlag, Karl H. & van der Weele, Joël J., 2013. "Sanctions that signal: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 34-51.
    3. Jean-Robert Tyran & Kenju Kamei & Louis Putterman, 2011. "State or Nature? Formal vs. Informal Sanctioning in the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Vienna Economics Papers 1104, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    4. Thomas Markussen & Ernesto Reuben & Jean‐Robert Tyran, 2014. "Competition, Cooperation and Collective Choice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages 163-195, February.
    5. Balafoutas, Loukas & Kocher, Martin G. & Putterman, Louis & Sutter, Matthias, 2013. "Equality, equity and incentives: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 32-51.
    6. Rebecca B. Morton & Marco Piovesan & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2012. "The Dark Side of the Vote: Biased Voters, Social Information, and Information Aggregation Through Majority Voting," Harvard Business School Working Papers 13-017, Harvard Business School.
    7. Sausgruber, Rupert & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2014. "Discriminatory taxes are unpopular—Even when they are efficient and distributionally fair," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 463-476.
    8. Yoshio Kamijo & Hiroki Ozono & Kazumi Shimizu, 2014. "A Mechanism That Overcomes Coordination Failure Based On Gradualism, Endogeneity, And Modification," Working Papers 1401, Waseda University, Faculty of Political Science and Economics.
    9. Tiezzi, Silvia & Xiao, Erte, 2013. "Time Delay and Support for Taxation," MPRA Paper 51233, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Thöni, Christian & Tyran, Jean-Robert & Wengström, Erik, 2012. "Microfoundations of social capital," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(7-8), pages 635-643.
    11. Boyu Zhang & Cong Li & Hannelore Silva & Peter Bednarik & Karl Sigmund, 2014. "The evolution of sanctioning institutions: an experimental approach to the social contract," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(2), pages 285-303, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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