Group (Re-)Formation in Public Good Games: The Tale of the Bad Apple

34 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2016

See all articles by Christian Grund

Christian Grund

RWTH Aachen University - School of Economics and Business Administration; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Christine Harbring

University of Cologne; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Kirsten Thommes

RWTH Aachen University

Abstract

We analyze how different previous roles as partners or strangers in public good games affect an individual's subsequent cooperation in a partner setting. We systematically vary a group's composition from all individuals being partner over blended groups of partners and strangers to all individuals being stranger in each round. Our results show that previous group composition does not affect cooperation in the subsequent partner setting with one exception: Groups cooperate significantly less compared to all other settings, when one stranger entered the group. We further analyze this situation in-depth and find that individuals may labor under an ultimate attribution error: They feel that the newcomer is a "bad apple". The cooperativeness towards the newcomer, but also among oldtimers is disturbed in this case. We conduct additional treatments to back up this result and to show how certain information can prevent such an error.

Keywords: cooperation, economic experiments, group composition, public good game, teams

JEL Classification: C9, M5

Suggested Citation

Grund, Christian and Harbring, Christine and Thommes, Kirsten, Group (Re-)Formation in Public Good Games: The Tale of the Bad Apple. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9982. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2794292

Christian Grund (Contact Author)

RWTH Aachen University - School of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Aachen
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Christine Harbring

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany
+ 49 (0) 221 / 470 - 7955 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Kirsten Thommes

RWTH Aachen University ( email )

Templergraben 55
52056 Aachen, 52056
Germany

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