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competition between groups driving cooperation within groups?

16 March 2011

Multiple laboratory experiments (Bornstein and Ben-Yossef (1993), Bornstein et al. (2002)) and at one field experiment (Erev et al. (1999)) suggest that competition across groups can be a strong driver of cooperative behavior within groups. In this paper, we test this hypothesis in a competitive public goods game by presenting information to people about the contributions of members of their own group or those of the competing group. In the field experiment, which was run during the 2008 campaign for the US House of Representatives, 10,000 potential donors to a Democratic candidate were separated into three equal-sized demographically-balanced groups and sent a solicitation postcard.

That is from a working paper by Ned Augenblick and Jesse Cunha. Cunha is giving a talk at TAMU on Weds., March 23, on a different paper: “Testing Paternalism: Cash vs. In-kind Transfers,” a very timely topic.

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