Publication Types:

Personal accountability and cooperation in teams

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Axel Sonntag, Daniel John Zizzo
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, doi: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.12.014
Publication year: 2018

In a real effort lab and online team production experiment, we analyze exerted effort under different conditions of individual accountability. In a repeated setting, we vary the degree to which production can be directly traced back to a collaborator’s individual or randomly drawn effort level, respectively. We find that individuals produce much less and the decline of effort over time is significantly steeper under high as compared to low and endogenously chosen personal accountability. While endogenous accountability provides an option for monitoring others, it does not force subjects to learn about their under-performing peers, thus limiting the typical decline of contributions over time. We conclude that accountability one step removed may be an interesting institutional setting for repeated collaborations in contexts where low accountability for political, social or legal reasons is not a viable option.

Estimating the price elasticity of fuel demand with stated preferences derived from a situational approach

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Reinhard Hössinger, Christoph Link, Axel Sonntag, Juliane Stark
Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 103, Pages 154–171, doi: 10.1016/j.tra.2017.06.001
Publication year: 2017

An evidence-based policy debate about future fuel demand requires reliable estimates for fuel price elasticities. Such predictions are often based on revealed preference (RP) data. However, this procedure will only yield reliable results in the absence of severe structural discontinuities. In order to overcome this potential limitation we used a situational stated preference (SP) survey to estimate the response to hypothetical fuel price changes beyond the scope of previous observations. We elicit fuel price elasticities for price increases up to four Euros per liter and find that the situational approach predicts the actual responses to previously observed fuel price changes very well. We conclude that applying a situational approach is particularly useful, if behavioral predictions for unprecedented (non-monetary) policy interventions or supply side shocks are of interest that go beyond the reach of standard RP approaches.

Contract Choice: Efficiency and Fairness in Revenue Sharing Contracts

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Alexandros Karakostas, Axel Sonntag, Daniel John Zizzo
Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 119(4), 962–986, doi: 10.1111/sjoe.12200
Publication year: 2017

We present a simple principal-agent experiment in which the principals are allowed to choose between a revenue sharing, a bonus and a trust contract, to offer to an agent. Our findings suggest that a large majority of experimental subjects choose the revenue sharing contract. This choice not only turns out to be the most efficient but at the same time is fair. Overall, the distribution of earnings is only mildly skewed towards the principal. We conclude that under revenue sharing contracts concerns for fairness can go in hand with the use of monetary incentives.

Search costs and adaptive consumers: Short time delays do not affect choice quality

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Axel Sonntag
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 113. Elsevier B.V.: 64–79. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2015.02.024.
Publication year: 2015

Using online price comparison and shopping platforms makes experiencing slow connections, lags and waiting times for information an unfortunate reality. However, little attention has been paid to analyzing the effects of such delayed display of information on product choice behavior. This article explores the effect of time delays in a multi-attribute choice laboratory experiment by not providing information immediately when requested but after short time delays. Increasing these waiting times reduced the amount of information looked-up but did not affect choice quality. Higher time delays made decision-makers use more deliberate search processes, whereas low time delays induced inefficient oversearching.

On Reminder Effects, Drop-Outs and Dominance: Evidence from an Online Experiment on Charitable Giving

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Axel Sonntag, Daniel John Zizzo
Plos One 10 (8): e0134705. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134705.
Publication year: 2015

We present the results of an experiment that (a) shows the usefulness of screening out drop-outs and (b) tests whether different methods of payment and reminder intervals affect charitable giving. Following a lab session, participants could make online donations to charity for a total duration of three months. Our procedure justifying the exclusion of drop-outs consists in requiring participants to collect payments in person flexibly and as known in advance and as highlighted to them later. Our interpretation is that participants who failed to collect their positive payments under these circumstances are likely not to satisfy dominance. If we restrict the sample to subjects who did not drop out, but not otherwise, reminders significantly increase the overall amount of charitable giving. We also find that weekly reminders are no more effective than monthly reminders in increasing charitable giving, and that, in our three months duration experiment, standing orders do not increase giving relative to one-off donations.

Institutional Authority and Collusion

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Axel Sonntag, Daniel John Zizzo
Sounthern Economic Journal 82 (1), 13–37, doi: 10.1002/soej.12065
Publication year: 2015

A “collusion puzzle” exists by which, even though increasing the number of firms reduces the ability to tacitly collude, and leads to a collapse in collusion in experimental markets with three or more firms, in natural markets there are such numbers of firms colluding successfully. We present an experiment showing that, if managers are deferential toward an authority, firms can induce more collusion by delegating production decisions to middle managers and providing suitable informal nudges. This holds not only with two but also with four firms. We are also able to distinguish compliance effects from coordination effects.