School of Economics

2009 Discussion Papers

School of Economics Discussion Paper 09/14
October 2009

Leadership in a Weak-Link Game

Joris Gillet, Edward Cartwright, Mark Van Vugt

School of Economics
University of Kent

Abstract:

We investigate, experimentally, the effects of leadership in a four player weak-link game. A weak-link game is a coordination game with multiple Pareto-ranked Nash equilibria. Because the more efficient equilibria involve a degree of strategic uncertainty groups typically find it difficult to coordinate on more efficient equilibria. Previous studies have shown that leadership by example - in the form of one player acting publicly before the rest of the group - can lead to increased cooperation in collective action problems and we are interested in finding out whether this result extends to weak-link games. Our results suggest that leadership has no effect on initial behavior; the first time that they play the game participants behave the same with leadership as without. We also observe, however, that leadership can allow groups to raise efficiency over time and therefore overcome inefficiency. There doesn't appear to be a difference between voluntary leaders and leaders that are (randomly) appointed.

JEL Classification: C72, D01, H41

Keywords: Leadership, coordination game, weak-link game, minimum-effort game

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