Does Delegation Undermine Accountability? Experimental Evidence on the Relationship between Blame-Shifting and Control
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Forthcoming
45 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2015 Last revised: 24 Jan 2015
Date Written: December 8, 2014
A small but growing literature in experimental economics finds that principals can shift responsibility for blameworthy behavior to agents, even when those agents are effectively powerless. Prior work in this field measures blameworthy behavior only indirectly, however. It uses modified dictator games to measure attributions of blame for inequitable allocations of wealth. Yet participants might find inequitable allocations of wealth not blameworthy. Thus, such indirect measures leave open the possibility that prior work is not measuring blame shifting at all. This paper corrects for a crucial shortcoming by providing a direct measure of blame shifting behavior. It reports and discusses first of its kind experimental evidence that shows that principals can delegate to powerless intermediaries in order to evade blame.
JEL Classification: K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation