Signaling Cooperation

SAFE Working Paper No. 120

40 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2015

See all articles by Matthias Heinz

Matthias Heinz

University of Cologne; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Heiner Schumacher

KU Leuven - Faculty of Business and Economics (FEB)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 8, 2015


We examine what an applicant’s vita signals to potential employers about her willingness to cooperate in teams. Intensive social engagement may credibly reveal that an applicant cares about the well-being of others and therefore is less likely to free-ride in teamwork situations. We find that contributions in a public goods game strongly increase in a subject’s degree of social engagement as indicated on her résumé (and rated by an independent third party). Engagement in other domains, such as student or sports associations, is not positively correlated with contributions. In a prediction experiment with human resource managers from various industries, we find that managers use résumé content effectively to predict relative differences in subjects’ willingness to cooperate. Thus, young professionals signal important behavioral characteristics to potential employers through the choice of their extracurricular activities.

Keywords: Signaling, Public Goods, Labor Markets, Extracurricular Activities

JEL Classification: C72, C92, D82

Suggested Citation

Heinz, Matthias and Schumacher, Heiner, Signaling Cooperation (November 8, 2015). SAFE Working Paper No. 120, Available at SSRN: or

Matthias Heinz

University of Cologne ( email )

Cologne, 50923

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

United Kingdom

Heiner Schumacher (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Faculty of Business and Economics (FEB) ( email )

Naamsestraat 69
Leuven, B-3000

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