Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility

45 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2008 Last revised: 17 Mar 2011

See all articles by Björn Bartling

Björn Bartling

University of Zurich - Department of Economics; Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Urs Fischbacher

University of Konstanz - Faculty of Economics and Statistics

Date Written: March 15, 2011

Abstract

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

Bartling, Björn and Fischbacher, Urs, Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility (March 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1166544 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1166544

Björn Bartling (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Urs Fischbacher

University of Konstanz - Faculty of Economics and Statistics ( email )

Universitaetsstr. 10
78457 Konstanz
Germany

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