Leadership: Who Matters
33 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2007
Date Written: October 2007
Previous research provides compelling evidence that human leaders are sufficient for efficiency-enhancing leadership effects on cooperation in groups, yet little is known regarding the contexts in which human leadership is necessary in this regard. For example, a simple explanation is that leaders provide a common signal to which group members naively respond. Because it is not necessary for a common signal to originate with a human leader, such an explanation could have critically different policy implications than are suggested by currently accepted accounts of a leader's value. We here report rigorous evidence on the extent to which leadership effects in a social dilemma require human leaders. We find that group members' decisions are significantly influenced by human leaders' non-binding contribution suggestions. On the other hand, those same suggestions do not impact group members' decisions when they do not originate with human leaders.
Keywords: leadership, cooperation, public goods experiment, social dilemma
JEL Classification: C71, C92, D63, D72, H41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation