Does Disputing Through Agents Enhance Cooperation? Experimental Evidence

Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4 (1997).

Posted: 14 Feb 1997  

Rachel T. A. Croson

Michigan State University

Robert H. Mnookin

Harvard Law School; Program on Negotiation

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Abstract

A distinctive characteristic of our mechanisms for conflict resolution is that litigation is carried out by agents chosen by disputing principles. Does the fact that clients choose lawyers to carry on their disputes facilitate dispute resolution or instead exacerbate conflict? The dominant contemporary view is that the involvement of lawyers magnifies the contentiousness of litigation and wastes social resources, prolonging and escalating the conflict in ways that enrich the legal profession but not the clients. But in a recent article, Gilson and Mnookin suggested another possibility: by choosing lawyers with reputations for cooperation, clients may commit to cooperative litigation in circumstance where the clients themselves would not otherwise trust each other. Using the methodology of experimental economics, this paper presents a test of their idea that, by choosing cooperative agents under well-specified procedures, principals may sustain more cooperation than they could on their own. Our experimental findings are consistent with the Gilson-Mnookin hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

Croson, Rachel T. A. and Mnookin, Robert H., Does Disputing Through Agents Enhance Cooperation? Experimental Evidence. Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4 (1997).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=10315

Rachel T. A. Croson

Michigan State University ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

Robert H. Mnookin (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Hauser Hall 416
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-9201 (Phone)
617-496-3777 (Fax)

Program on Negotiation ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

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