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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. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. 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.
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  4. 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.
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  7. Bj�rn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2008. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," TWI Research Paper Series 32, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universit�t Konstanz.
  8. 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).
  9. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
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  13. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
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  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.
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