Should Transparency Be (In-)Transparent? On Monitoring Aversion and Cooperation in Teams
22 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2022
Date Written: December 23, 2021
Many modern organisations employ methods which involve monitoring of employees' actions in order to encourage teamwork in the workplace. While monitoring promotes a transparent working environment, the effects of making monitoring itself transparent may be ambiguous and have received surprisingly little attention in the literature. Using a novel laboratory experiment, we create a working environment in which first movers can (or cannot) observe second mover's monitoring at the end of a round. Our framework consists of a standard repeated sequential Prisoner's Dilemma, where the second mover can observe the choices made by first movers either exogenously or endogenously. We show that mutual cooperation occurs significantly more frequently when monitoring is made transparent. Additionally, our results highlight the key role of conditional cooperators (who are more likely to monitor) in promoting teamwork. Overall, the observed cooperation enhancing effects are due to monitoring actions that carry information about first movers who use it to better screen the type of their co-player and thereby reduce the risk of being exploited.
Keywords: monitoring, teamwork, transparency, laboratory experiment
JEL Classification: C92, D07, H41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation