Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility
45 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2008 Last revised: 17 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 15, 2011
To fully understand the motives for delegating a decision right, it is important to study responsibility attributions for outcomes of delegated decisions. We conducted laboratory experiments in which subjects could either choose a fair allocation or an unfair allocation or delegate the choice, and we used a punishment option to elicit responsibility attributions. Our results show that, first, responsibility attribution can be effectively shifted and, second, this can constitute a strong motive for the delegation of a decision right. Moreover, we propose a simple measure of responsibility and show that this measure outperforms measures based on inequity aversion or reciprocity in predicting punishment behavior.
Keywords: delegation, responsibility, punishment, decision rights
JEL Classification: C91, D63
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation