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Deciding how to decide on public goods provision: The role of instrumental vs. intrinsic motives

Philipp Harms, Claudia Landwehr (), Maximilian Lutz () and Markus Tepe ()
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Claudia Landwehr: Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany
Maximilian Lutz: University of Oldenburg
Markus Tepe: University of Oldenburg

No 2018, Working Papers from Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Abstract: What determines citizens’ preferences over alternative decision-making procedures – the expected personal gain associated with a procedure, or the intrinsic value assigned to it? To answer this question, we present the results of a laboratory experiment in which participants select a procedure to decide on the provision of a public good. In the first stage of the experiment, they choose between majority voting and delegation to a welfare-maximizing “expert” as alternative decision-making procedures. In the second stage of the experiment, subjects either vote on the provision of the public good, or the decision is taken by the expert. We define three treatments in which participants receive information about whether a majority in the group faces a positive or negative payoff from the provision of the public good, about whether there is a positive group benefit from its provision, or neither kind of information. Our findings confirm the importance of instrumental motives in procedural choices. At the same time, however, a significant share of participants chooses a procedure that does not maximize their individual benefit. While majority voting seems to be preferred for intrinsic values of fairness and equality, support for delegation to the welfaremaximizing expert increases if the group benefit from a public good is known – even in participants who are net payers for its provision.

Keywords: process preferences; public goods; laboratory experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 28 pages
Date: 2020-07-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-exp
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