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Shifting the blame: On delegation and responsibility


Bartling, Björn; Fischbacher, Urs (2012). Shifting the blame: On delegation and responsibility. Review of Economic Studies, 79(1):67-87.

Abstract

To fully understand the motives for delegating a decision right, it is important to study responsibility attributions for outcomes of delegated decisions. We conducted laboratory experiments in which subjects could either choose a fair allocation or an unfair allocation or delegate the choice, and we used a punishment option to elicit responsibility attributions. Our results show that, first, responsibility attribution can be effectively shifted and, second, this can constitute a strong motive for the delegation of a decision right. Moreover, we propose a simple measure of responsibility and show that this measure outperforms measures based on inequity aversion or reciprocity in predicting punishment behaviour.

Abstract

To fully understand the motives for delegating a decision right, it is important to study responsibility attributions for outcomes of delegated decisions. We conducted laboratory experiments in which subjects could either choose a fair allocation or an unfair allocation or delegate the choice, and we used a punishment option to elicit responsibility attributions. Our results show that, first, responsibility attribution can be effectively shifted and, second, this can constitute a strong motive for the delegation of a decision right. Moreover, we propose a simple measure of responsibility and show that this measure outperforms measures based on inequity aversion or reciprocity in predicting punishment behaviour.

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48 citations in Web of Science®
43 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:14 Feb 2012 10:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:25
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0034-6527 (P) 1467-937X (E)
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/restud/rdr023
Related URLs:http://www.zora.uzh.ch/52333/
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:3983

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