Working Paper BETA #2012-21

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Title : Who are the Voluntary Leaders? Experimental Evidence from a Sequential Contribution Game.

Author(s) : Raphaële Préget, Phu Nguyen-Van, Marc Willinger

Abstract : We show that the preference to act as a leader rather than as a follower is related to subjects’ behavioral type. We rely on the methodology proposed by Fischbacher et al. (2001) and Fischbacher and Gächter (2010) in order to identify subjects’ behavioral types. We then link the likelihood to act as a leader in a repeated public goods game to the elicited behavioral types. The leader in a group is defined as the subject who voluntarily decides in the first place about his contribution. The leader’s contribution is then reported publicly to the remaining group members who are requested to take their contribution decisions simultaneously. Our main findings are that leaders emerge in almost all rounds and that conditional cooperators are more likely to act as leaders compared to free riders. We also find that voluntary leaders, irrespective of their behavioral type, contribute more than the followers. However leadership does not prevent the decay that is commonly observed in linear public goods experiments.

Key-words : Public Goods, Experimental Economics, Voluntary Contribution Mechanism, Leadership.

JEL Classification : H41, C92