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Cooperation and Strategic Complementarity: An Experiment with Two Voluntary Contribution Mechanism Games with Interior Equilibria

Olli Lappalainen ()
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Olli Lappalainen: Department of Economics, Turku School of Economics at University of Turku, FI-20014 Turku, Finland

Games, 2018, vol. 9, issue 3, 1-24

Abstract: In public goods game experiments, designs implementing non-linearities in the production are less common than the standard linear setting, especially so under the assumption that the private goods production and public goods aggregation function are both non-linear. We study a voluntary contribution game (VCM) in which returns from the private project have diminishing marginal benefits and the contributions to the joint project exhibit pairwise strategic complementarities. As a control, we use a public goods game with an identical private production technology, but with the standard linear public goods aggregation. In addition to the aggregation technology, we manipulate the group size variable: In both treatments, the subjects will first play a VCM game in groups of five for 20 rounds, after which the group size is reduced to two, and the game is played for another 20 rounds. A significant over-contribution is observed in both settings when the group size is five. The rate of over-contribution is much higher under the complementary technology, but as predicted by theory, the contributions drop drastically when the group size is reduced from n = 5 to n = 2 within this treatment. Our experiment also provides empirical evidence that the so-called group size effect is present in both treatments, but it is much weaker under the standard aggregation technology.

Keywords: cooperation; complementarity; laboratory experiment; public goods game (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C C7 C70 C71 C72 C73 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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