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Leaders as role models and ‘belief managers’ in social dilemmas

Simon Gächter () and Elke Renner

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2018, vol. 154, issue C, 321-334

Abstract: We investigate the link between leadership, beliefs and pro-social behavior in social dilemmas. This link is interesting because field evidence suggests that people's behavior in domains like charitable giving, tax evasion, corporate culture and corruption is influenced by leaders (CEOs, politicians) and beliefs about others’ behavior. Our framework is a repeated experimental public goods game with and without a leader who makes a contribution to the public good before others (the followers). We find that leaders strongly shape their followers’ initial beliefs and contributions. In later rounds, followers put more weight on other followers’ past behavior than on the leader's current action. This creates a path dependency the leader can hardly correct. We discuss the implications for understanding belief effects in naturally occurring situations.

Keywords: Leadership; Beliefs; Reciprocity; Peer effects; Experiments; Public goods; Path dependency; Public policy; Management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 C90 H41 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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