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State Coercion and Control Aversion: Evidence from an Internet Study in East and West Germany

Katrin Schmelz and Anthony Ziegelmeyer

No 117, TWI Research Paper Series from Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz

Abstract: Do politico-economic systems influence how control affects motivation? We hypothesize that control aversion has evolved less under the coercive regime of East Germany than under the liberal regime of West Germany. We test this hypothesis in a large-scale internet experiment with subjects of different generations. The core of our study is a repeated principal-agent game where the principal can control the agent by implementing a minimal effort requirement before the agent chooses an effort costly to her but beneficial to the principal. In this setting, control aversion is captured by crowding-out of intrinsic motivation due to enforcement. We find that overall, control aversion is stronger among West than among East Germans. These differences converge quickly over generations as they are significant only for older Germans who differ in their regime experience, but not for younger ones who essentially grew up in reunified Germany. We conclude that control-related preferences are deeply affected by direct exposure to a politico-economic system, while they are hardly transmitted to younger generations.

Keywords: institutions; culture; intrinsic motivation; control aversion; crowding-out; hidden costs of control; online experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp
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