Centralized Sanctioning and Legitimate Authority in the Provision of Public Goods: Evidence from a 'Lab in the Field' Experiment in Uganda

41 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 20 Apr 2011

See all articles by Guy Grossman

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania

Delia Baldassarri

Princeton University - Department of Sociology; Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Date Written: August 22, 2010

Abstract

Social sanctioning is widely considered a viable solution to social dilemmas. Public Goods games have provided experimental evidence in support of the role sanctioning plays in sustaining cooperation even when incentives to free-ride are pervasive. Although in real life centralized systems of control are ubiquitous, experimental research has mostly focused on peer-punishment institutions. To test the effect of centralized punishment, we designed a novel adaptation of the public goods game in which sanctioning power is given to an external monitor. Our "lab in the field" experiment involved 1,554 farmers from 50 farmer cooperatives through Uganda and is the first study to provide evidence of the effectiveness of a centralized sanctioning institution. Moreover, we also demonstrate the importance of legitimate authority in fostering cooperation: participants are more responsive to the authority of an elected rather than randomly chosen monitor. Finally, we relate players' behavior in the games to their level of cooperation in the farmer organization and show that farmers' performance in the game setting is consistent with their real life outcomes.

Keywords: Social Dilemmas, Public Goods Games, Legitimacy, Centralized Authority, External Validity, Sanctioning

Suggested Citation

Grossman, Guy and Baldassarri, Delia, Centralized Sanctioning and Legitimate Authority in the Provision of Public Goods: Evidence from a 'Lab in the Field' Experiment in Uganda (August 22, 2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1643259

Guy Grossman (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

133 S. 36th Street
Perelman Center for Political Science and Economic
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
(215) 898-4209 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://web.sas.upenn.edu/ggros/

Delia Baldassarri

Princeton University - Department of Sociology ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

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