Khadjavi, Menusch Lange, Andreas Nicklisch, Andreas
Year of Publication:
Beiträge zur Jahrestagung des Vereins für Socialpolitik 2014: Evidenzbasierte Wirtschaftspolitik - Session: Public Goods E03-V4
Transparency and accountability are often regarded as crucial for good governance and the efficient organization of public affairs. To systematically explore the impact of transparency and accountability on cooperation, we conduct a series of laboratory experiments on a variation of the public good game with agents that differ in their action space. While some agents may only contribute to the public good, one (special) agent has the additional option to exploit the existing public good stock. In the absence of a sanction mechanism, we identify a surprising, yet intuitive effect: transparency backfires as special agents extract significantly more resources. Introducing a peer punishment mechanism sustains contributions to the public good if types or actions of agents are made transparent. When actions are not known we however identify a stigmatization effect for the special agent as he receives substantially more peer punishment while contributions by other agents do not change. Finally full transparency of all agents actions creates full accountability as it allows targeted punishment and thereby increases contributions by all agents.