The Effect of Leadership in a Public Bad Experiment

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With regard to global or regional environmental problems, do countries that take unilateral actions inspire other countries to curtail emissions?In this paper this possibility is investigated by the use of a novel design of a laboratory public bad experiment with a leader.Twelve groups of five subjects played the game twice, with two treatments: ten rounds with a leader and ten rounds without a leader.The order of the treatments was varied over groups.A significant (within-subject) effect of leadership is found.Followers invest on average 15 percent less in the public bad when there is a leader setting the good example as opposed to a situation with no leader.Furthermore, total payoffs turn out to be significantly higher in the leader treatment than in the no-leader treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • pollution
  • experimental design
  • public goods


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