Groups and socially responsible production: An experiment with farmers

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Does corporate social responsibility decrease when decisions are made by several people instead of an individual entrepreneur? And if so, why? I study these questions in a lab-in-the-field experiment involving 126 Italian farmers. They are asked to choose between an ecological version of a product and non-ecological version that provides them with a profit to use on their farms. To study the effect of collective decision making, I introduce a novel 2×2 design with two experimental variations: (i) the number of people responsible for the decision (one vs three); and (ii) the number of people receiving a payoff from the decision (one vs three). I find that a collective payoff leads to less socially responsible decisions, possibly because it provides participants with the moral wiggle room to behave less socially responsibly. Sharing the responsibility of the decision with others does not change behavior in this setting. I also find that my experimental measure of social responsibility correlates well with measures of social responsibility outside the lab.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-392
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Apr 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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