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Pivotality and responsibility attribution in sequential voting

  • Björn Bartling
  • Urs Fischbacher
  • Simeon Schudy

This paper analyzes responsibility attributions for outcomes of collective decision making processes. In particular, we ask if decision makers are blamed for being pivotal if they implement an unpopular outcome in a sequential voting process. We conduct an experimental voting game in which decision makers vote about the allocation of money between themselves and recipients without voting rights. We measure responsibility attributions for voting decisions by eliciting the monetary punishment that recipients assign to individual decision makers. We find that pivotal decision makers are punished significantly more for an unpopular voting outcome than non‐pivotal decision makers. Our data also suggest that some voters avoid being pivotal by voting strategically in order to delegate the pivotal vote to subsequent decision makers.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 138.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision: Apr 2015
Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:138
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  1. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen, 1997. "Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510944, June.
  4. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  5. Gilat Levy, 2005. "Decision making in committees: transparency, reputation and voting rules," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 543, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2008. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," IEW - Working Papers 380, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  9. Falk, Armin & Szech, Nora, 2013. "Organizations, Diffused Pivotality and Immoral Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 9522, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Lucas C. Coffman, 2011. "Intermediation Reduces Punishment (and Reward)," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 77-106, November.
  11. Armin Falk & Nora Szech, 2013. "Organizations, Diffused Pivotality and Immoral Outcomes," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1305, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  12. Armin Falk & Nora Szech, 2013. "Organizations, Diffused Pivotality and Immoral Outcomes," CESifo Working Paper Series 4300, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. 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.
  14. Jean-Robert Tyran, 2002. "Voting when Money and Morals Conflict - An Experimental Test of Expressive Voting," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-07, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  15. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. 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 1826-46, September.
  17. Falk, Armin & Szech, Nora, 2013. "Organizations, diffused pivotality and immoral outcomes," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-303, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  18. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  19. Falk, Armin & Szech, Nora, 2013. "Organizations, Diffused Pivotality and Immoral Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 7442, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2011. "The strategy versus the direct-response method: a first survey of experimental comparisons," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 375-398, September.
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