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Essays on cooperation

Sormani, Roberto Claudio (2018) Essays on cooperation. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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These essays provide arguments and evidence as to circumstances that encourage or hinder cooperation. Chapter 1 theoretically argues that incentives to participation in a cooperative environment can increase participation, but disrupt cooperation itself. Following B´enabou and Tirole’s (2003) crowding-out theory, I propose a model where cooperation is strategically complementary and principals face a trade off between pay and cooperativeness of agents. If such trade off is anticipated by agents, this can lead to multiple equilibria where the informative power of incentives disrupts cooperation. Chapter 2 presents results from a randomised controlled trial in Poland which used reminder letters to promote voluntary compliance among 150,122 taxpayers who declared their Personal Income Tax but had failed to pay by the deadline. Taxpayers were randomly allocated to receive the letter originally used by the authorities or one of nine letters adapted using behavioural design. Among other results, we find that, relative to a control “behavioural” letter, there is a significant negative effect of a “social norm” message informing of the high frequency of compliant taxpayers. There is also a significant negative effect of a “public goods” messages that appeals to cooperation on the taxpayers’ side by reminding them of the role of taxes to support the services provided by the government. In this context, therefore, we do not find evidence of reciprocity or conditional cooperation. Chapter 3 presents results from a lab-in-the-field experiment conducted at the LSE in 2017. Experimental subjects are asked to take part in a two-person team task for an LGBTI charity. The production function exhibits perfect complementarities in individual levels of effort. Subjects are asked to decide whether they want to volunteer their compensation, are then randomly assigned a partner and informed whether their partner volunteereed. I find that being matched with a volunteer increases effort among those attending, in particular those who have reported more interest in working for the cause. Charities are thus particularly affected by the composition of their teams in terms of career choice and motivation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Roberto Claudio Sormani
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Economics
Supervisor: Bandiera, Oriana

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