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Pre-Play communication with forgone costly messages: experimental evidence on forward induction

  • Andreas Blume
  • Peter H. Kriss
  • Roberto A. Weber

We study communication in a two-player coordination game with Pareto-ranked equilibria. Prior research demonstrates that efficient coordination is difficult without communication but obtains regularly with (mandatory) costless pre-play messages. In a laboratory experiment, we modify communication by making the sending of messages optional and costly. Even small costs dramatically reduce message use, but efficient coordination of actions occurs with similar frequency to that observed under costless communication. Our results can be accounted for by Govindan and Wilson's formalization of forward induction (GW-FI), which selects, among the pure-strategy equilibrium outcomes, the one in which efficiency is achieved without communication. Consistent with the introspective character of GW-FI, the fraction of players who achieve efficient coordination by forgoing the use of reasonably costly optional messages is substantial from the first period, is remarkably stable at that level, and is not significantly affected by learning.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 034.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision: Sep 2014
Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:034
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  1. Giovanna Devetag & Andreas Ortmann, 2006. "When and Why? A Critical Survey on Coordination Failure in the Laboratory," CEEL Working Papers 0605, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  2. Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2005. "Burning money and (pseudo) first-mover advantages: an experimental study on forward induction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 109-127, April.
  3. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2006. "A Change Would Do You Good .... An Experimental Study on How to Overcome Coordination Failure in Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 669-693, June.
  4. Blume, A., 1996. "Communication, Risk and Efficiency in Games," Working Papers 96-03, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
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  6. David P. Myatt & Chris Wallace, 2012. "Endogenous Information Acquisition in Coordination Games," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 340-374.
  7. Weber, Roberto & Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc, 1996. "The Illusion of Leadership," Working Papers 992, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  8. Battigalli, Pierpaolo & Siniscalchi, Marciano, 2002. "Strong Belief and Forward Induction Reasoning," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 356-391, October.
  9. Cooper, Russell, et al, 1990. "Selection Criteria in Coordination Games: Some Experimental Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 218-33, March.
  10. Van Huyck, John B & Battalio, Raymond C & Beil, Richard O, 1990. "Tacit Coordination Games, Strategic Uncertainty, and Coordination Failure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 234-48, March.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  12. Roberto A. Weber, 2006. "Managing Growth to Achieve Efficient Coordination in Large Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 114-126, March.
  13. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2007. "It's What You Say, Not What You Pay: An Experimental Study of Manager–Employee Relationships in Overcoming Coordination Failure," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1223-1268, December.
  14. Duffy, John & Feltovich, Nick, 2002. "Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words? An Experimental Comparison of Observation and Cheap Talk," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-27, April.
  15. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2003. "Behavioral Game Theory. Experiments in Strategic Interaction: Colin F. Camerer, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2003, p. 550, Price $65.00/[UK pound]42.95, ISBN 0-691-09039-4," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 717-720, December.
  16. Blume, Andreas & Ortmann, Andreas, 2007. "The effects of costless pre-play communication: Experimental evidence from games with Pareto-ranked equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 274-290, January.
  17. Dietmar Fehr, 2011. "The Persistence of "Bad" Precedents and the Need for Communication: A Coordination Experiment," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2011-039, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
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