Group Membership, Competition, and Altruistic Versus Antisocial Punishment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Army Groups

49 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2010

See all articles by Lorenz Goette

Lorenz Goette

University of Lausanne; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

David Huffman

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Swarthmore College

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Columbia Business School - Management

Matthias Sutter

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Cologne - Department of Economics

Abstract

We investigate how group boundaries, and the economic environment surrounding groups, affect altruistic cooperation and punishment behavior. Our study uses experiments conducted with 525 officers in the Swiss Army, and exploits random assignment to platoons. We find that, without competition between groups, individuals are more prone to cooperate altruistically in a prisoner's dilemma game with in-group as opposed to out-group members. They also use a costly punishment option to selectively harm those who defect, encouraging a norm of cooperation towards the group. Adding competition between groups causes even stronger in-group cooperation, but also a qualitative change in punishment: punishment becomes antisocial, harming cooperative and defecting out-group members alike. These findings support recent evolutionary models and have important organizational implications.

Keywords: group membership, competition, punishment, army, experiment

JEL Classification: C72, C91, C93

Suggested Citation

Goette, Lorenz F. and Huffman, David and Meier, Stephan and Sutter, Matthias, Group Membership, Competition, and Altruistic Versus Antisocial Punishment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Army Groups. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5189. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1682710

Lorenz F. Goette (Contact Author)

University of Lausanne ( email )

Department of Economics
Batiment Internef
Lausanne, 1015
Switzerland
(021) 692'3496 (Phone)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org

David Huffman

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Swarthmore College

500 College Ave
Swarthmore, PA 19081
United States

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ( email )

600 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Matthias Sutter

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

University of Cologne - Department of Economics

Cologne, 50923
Germany

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