nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2006‒09‒11
seventeen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Universita degli Studi di Roma, La Sapienza

  1. Who Are the Trustworthy, We Think? By Johansson-Stenman, Olof
  2. Moving in Social Circles – Social Circle Membership and Performance Implications By Verbeke, W.; Wuyts, S.
  3. Group Formation and Voter Participation By Helios Herrera; Cesar Martinelli
  4. On the Evolution of Trust, Distrust, and Formal Coordination and Control in Interorganizational Relationships: Towards an Integrative Framework By Vlaar, P.W.L.; Bosch, F.A.J. van den; Volberda, H.W.
  5. The Resilient Society: On volunteering, civil society and corporate community involvement in transition By Meijs, L.C.P.M.
  6. Trust and Recidivism; the Partial Success of Corporate Leniency Program in the Laboratory By Jeroen Hinloopen; Adriaan Soetevent
  7. Welfare Implications of Peer Punishment in Unequal Societies By Visser, Martine
  8. Notes on Habit Formation and Socially Optimal Growth By Simone Valente
  9. Social Life of Values By Magala, S.J.
  10. Much Ado About Nothing: A conceptual critique of CSR By Oosterhout, J. van; Heugens, P.P.M.A.R.
  11. Social Norms and Household Time Allocation By Almudena Sevilla Sanz
  12. Superstition, family planning, and human development By Do, Quy-Toan; Phung, Tung Duc
  13. Who Wants Flexibility? Changing Work Hours Preferences and Life Events By Robert Drago; David Black; Mark Wooden
  14. On Hierarchies and Communication By René van den Brink
  15. Deception and Misreporting in a Social Program By Cesar Martinelli; Susan W. Parker
  16. Family Fairness By Edna Ullmann-Margalit
  17. Bridging the Great Divide in South Africa: Inequality and Punishment in the Provision of Public Goods By Visser, Martine; Burns, Justine

  1. By: Johansson-Stenman, Olof (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: In a representative Swedish sample people were asked to judge the relative extent that different groups of people are considered trustworthy in several dimensions, including their political views and reading habits. A statistically significant effect of similarity on perceived trustworthiness was found in each of the seven dimensions analyzed. For example, right-wing voters consider Social Democratic voters to be much less trustworthy than right-wing voters, and vice versa. Thus, it seems that perceived trustworthiness decreases quite generally with the social distance. It is argued that social identity theory offers a plausible explanation. Moreover, older people are generally considered more trustworthy than younger, and people living in small cities are considered more trustworthy than people living in big cities. <p>
    Keywords: social capital; trustworthiness; social distance; identity; social identity; self-signalling
    JEL: C42 Z13
    Date: 2006–07–22
  2. By: Verbeke, W.; Wuyts, S. (Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), RSM Erasmus University)
    Abstract: We investigate social circles in intra-firm settings. First, we argue that social circles are inhabited by individuals whose attitudes display fit with the objectives of the social circle rather than more self-centered instrumentalism or calculation. For a test of this hypothesis, we distinguish between friendship circles and strategy-influence circles. We find that friendship circle membership is positively associated with attitudes that display empathic concern but negatively with more instrumental attitudes, whereas strategy-influence circle membership is positively associated with attitudes that display long-term ambition but negatively with attitudes that display short-term calculation. Second, we argue and find that membership of social circles affects individual performance (social circles foster the exchange of information, for which we find clear evidence), albeit not necessarily in a linear fashion. Our new insights into social circle membership and performance implications can guide individuals in seeking access to such social circles and can aid management in understanding and perhaps influencing intra-firm knowledge flows.
    Keywords: Knowledge Management;Social Networks;Reciprocity;
    Date: 2006–08–22
  3. By: Helios Herrera (Centro de Investigacion Economica (CIE), Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM)); Cesar Martinelli (Centro de Investigacion Economica (CIE), Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM))
    Abstract: We present a mobilization model of large elections with endogenous formation of voter groups. Citizens decide whether to be followers or become leaders (activists) and try to bring other citizens to vote for their preferred party. In the (unique) pure strategy equilibrium, the number of leaders favoring each party is a function of the cost of activism and the mportance of the election. Expected turnout and winning margin in the election are, in turn, a function of the number of leaders and the strength of social interactions. The model predicts a non monotonic relationship between expected turnout and winning margin in large elections.
    Keywords: Vote´x Paradox, Endogenous Leaders, Turnout, Winning Margin
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2005–05
  4. By: Vlaar, P.W.L.; Bosch, F.A.J. van den; Volberda, H.W. (Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), RSM Erasmus University)
    Abstract: In this article, we discuss the evolution of trust, distrust, and formal coordination and control in interorganizational relationships. We suggest that the degrees to which managers trust and distrust their partners during initial stages of cooperation leave strong imprints on the development of these relationships in later stages of collaboration. This derives from the impact of trust and distrust on: (1) formal coordination and control; (2) interorganizational performance; and (3) the interpretations that managers attribute to the behavior of their partners. Collectively, our arguments give rise to a conceptual framework, which indicates that there is a high propensity for interorganizational relationships to develop along vicious or virtuous cycles. By integrating and reconciling previous work on the trust-control nexus, and by emphasizing the dynamics associated with it, the article contributes to a more comprehensive and refined understanding of the evolution of interorganizational cooperation.
    Keywords: trust;distrust;formal coordination;formal control;evolution;interorganizational relationship;
    Date: 2006–07–24
  5. By: Meijs, L.C.P.M. (Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), RSM Erasmus University)
    Abstract: Changes in the Dutch non-profit regime necessitate the direct participation of citizens and businesses in non-profit organisations. Dutch society must re-invent the commitment of citizens, businesses, foundations, universities and various other organisations by increasing both ‘community capacity’ and ‘management capacity’. ‘Community capacity’ and ‘management capacity’ are important building blocks in the arena of involvement. The resilient society: On volunteering, civil society and corporate community involvement in transition is an exploration of the arena of involvement with regard to research agendas: 1) corporate community involvement as a component of community capacity and 2) non-profit management as a component of ‘management capacity’. Community capacity represents the possibility of a society to make a contribution that must become more private and ‘voluntary’. The address outlines various means to this end, including corporate community involvement on the part of businesses, ‘service learning’ as an instructional tool in universities and the integration of ‘social internships’ as a component of the general high school curriculum. Management capacity represents the possibility of (non-profit) organisations to work with new forms of community capacity, for example by improving accountability and volunteer management. The address concludes by using the metaphor of a slot machine to present a new conceptualisation of volunteer management that can also be applied to other relations between non-profit organisations, civil society and corporations.
    Keywords: volunteering;non-profit management;corporate community involvement;civil society;Corporate social responsibility;service learning;capacity building;community involvement;non-profit organisations;;
    Date: 2004–09–17
  6. By: Jeroen Hinloopen (Faculty of Economics and Econometrics, Universiteit van Amsterdam); Adriaan Soetevent (Faculty of Economics and Econometrics, Universiteit van Amsterdam)
    Abstract: An experiment is conducted were subjects interact repeatedly to examine the effect of a particular leniency program on cartel formation, cartel stability and cartel recidivism. The program leads to lower prices for three reasons. First, non-cooperators are more persistent in their behavior which effectively blocks cartel formation in their respective groups. Second, members of groups that do form a cartel defect more often thus reducing the average cartel lifetime. Third, the difference between the agreed-upon price and the undercutting price is larger. The leniency program does not however affect the probability that a dismantled cartel is re-established.
    Keywords: cartels; corporate leniency programs; Bertrand competition; experiment
    JEL: C92 D43 L41
    Date: 2006–08–01
  7. By: Visser, Martine (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: We show that peer sanctioning increases cooperation in public goods experiments more in unequally endowed groups than in equally endowed groups. Punishment results in a redistribution of wealth from high to low endowment players within groups. <p>
    Keywords: Inequality; cooperation; punishment; public goods; welfare and poverty; social norms
    JEL: C90 D63 H41 I30 Q20 Z13
    Date: 2006–01–31
  8. By: Simone Valente (Center of Economic Research, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH))
    Abstract: The interaction between habit formation and pollution-type ex- ternalities modifies the social optimum through discount effects and elasticity effects. If the substitution elasticity does not exceed unity, both effects reduce optimal consumption and capital in the long run, and the optimal capital-income tax increases with the relative impor- tance of habits. Similar results hold with high elasticity if the relative importance of habits is sufficiently high.
    Keywords: externalities, habit formation, pollution, optimal growth.
    JEL: D62 D91 E21
    Date: 2006–02
  9. By: Magala, S.J. (Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), RSM Erasmus University)
    Abstract: The case of the Danish “cartoon war†was a premonition of things to come: accelerated social construction of inequalities and their accelerated symbolic communication, translation and negotiation. New uses of values in organizing and managing inequalities emerge. Values lead active social life as bourgeois virtues (McCloskey, 2006), their subversive alternatives or translated “memes†of cultural history. Since social life of values went global and online, tracing their hybrid manifestations requires cross-culturally competent domestication (Magala, 2005) as if they were “memes†manipulated for further reengineering. Hopes are linked to emergent concepts of “microstorias†(Boje,2002), bottom-up, participative, open citizenship (Balibar,2004), disruption of stereotypical branding in mass-media (Sennett, 2006). However, Kuhn’s opportunistic deviation from Popperian evolutionary epistemology should fade away with other hidden injuries of Cold War, to free our agenda for the future of social sciences in general and organizational sciences in particular (Fuller, 2000, 2003).
    Keywords: Complex Identities;Political Paradigms;Cross-Cultural Competence;Professional Evolution;Managing Inequalities;Intersubjective Falsificationism;
    Date: 2006–03–30
  10. By: Oosterhout, J. van; Heugens, P.P.M.A.R. (Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), RSM Erasmus University)
    Abstract: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a nominal term clearly resonates with scholars and practitioners alike. As a scientific concept, however, it has often been criticized for its lack of definitional precision and poor measurement. In this paper we review and assess intensional and extensional definitions of the concept, as they have figured in the prior CSR literature. But we also go beyond these traditional review exercises by assessing the role (if any) of the concept in positive theorizing. The upshot of this analysis is that since the CSR concept adds nothing of value to existing frameworks in the field of management and organization, such as the economizing and legitimizing perspectives, it is best to discard it altogether.
    Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility;Corporate Social Performance;Intensional Definitions;Extensional Definitions;Positive Theorizing;Economizing;Legitimizing;
    Date: 2006–08–14
  11. By: Almudena Sevilla Sanz (Institute for Social and Economic Research)
    Abstract: Economic theories of the household predict that increases in relative female human capital lead to increases in female labor force participation and, symmetrically, to decreases in the female time devoted to household production. However, both at the longitudinal and cross-sectional level we observe that, despite the decline in the wage gender gap, specialization in home production continues to be high, with women providing most of household produced goods and services. We develop a simple model that recognizes the imperfect commitment associated to the contractual processes over household time allocation. In the light of the model, imperfect commitment is characterized as a constraint on the household division of labor beyond what is considered to be "socially acceptable". The model predicts that imperfect commitment problems are stronger (and thus the social constraint more likely to bind) (1) the higher the woman’s relative wage and (2) the less credible threats available. We test the model using the 2002-2003 Spanish Time Use Survey, a time diary survey with information on the time devoted to household production activities by both partners. Empirical findings support the proposed model of imperfect commitment in the allocation of household time. Although a woman’s home time decreases as her wage goes up, this effect is less pronounced as her wage is higher. Furthermore, the time devoted to those household activities where no credible threats exist (such as those involving care) are less elastic to an increase in the relative female wage. JEL classification: D13, J0, J1, J2, Z13
    Keywords: female labour supply, time use
    Date: 2006–08
  12. By: Do, Quy-Toan; Phung, Tung Duc
    Abstract: According to Vietnamese astrology, dates of birth are believed to be determinants of success, luck, character, and good match between individuals. But how far does this go? To document the influence of superstition on individuals ' behavior, the authors examine fertility decisions made in Vietnam between 1976 and 1996. They find that birth cohorts in auspicious years are significantly larger than in other years. Children born in auspicious years moreover do better both in health and education. While parental characteristics seem to affect fertility choices and human development simultaneously, the analysis suggests that family planning is one key mechanism leading to the observed differences in outcomes: in a society in which superstition is widespread, children born in auspicious years are more likely to have been planned by their parents, thus benefiting from more favorable financial, psychological, or affective conditions for better human development.
    Keywords: Youth and Governance,Health Monitoring & Evaluation,Adolescent Health,Primary Education,Early Childhood Development
    Date: 2006–08–01
  13. By: Robert Drago (Pennsylvania State University, USA); David Black (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne and Brotherhood of St Laurence); Mark Wooden (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)
    Abstract: We consider desires for flexibility in weekly hours by analyzing changes in work hours preferences using four years of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. We control for work hours preferences in previous years and test for effects on desired labor force participation and, for those wishing to participate, on current hours preferences. Our findings reveal that, in general, women are more sensitive to life events than men. Women’s preferred hours and labor force participation decline sharply with pregnancy and the arrival of children; their preferred hours approach usual levels as children enter school and ultimately decline as they become empty-nesters. We also find women’s preferred hours increasing following separation but falling after divorce, with an opposing pattern for men. Finally, a sizeable minority of retirees have preferences for phased instead of full retirement.
    Date: 2006–09
  14. By: René van den Brink (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
    Abstract: Many economic organizations have some relational structure, meaning that economic agents do not only differ with respect to certain individual characteristics such as wealth and preferences, but also belong to some relational structure in which they usually take different positions. Two examples of such structures are communication networks and hierarchies. In the literature the distinction between these two types of relational structures is not always clear. In models of restricted cooperation this distinction should be defined by properties of the set of feasible coalitions. We characterize the feasible sets in communication networks and compare them with feasible sets arising from hierarchies.
    Keywords: communication; hierarchy; cooperative game; feasible set
    JEL: C71 D85
    Date: 2006–07–03
  15. By: Cesar Martinelli (Centro de Investigacion Economica (CIE), Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM)); Susan W. Parker (División de Economia, Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (CIDE))
    Abstract: We investigate empirically the extent of misreporting in a poverty-alleviation program in which self-reported information, followed by a household visit, is used to determine eligibility. Underreporting may be due to a deception motive, and overreporting to an embarrassment motive. We find that underreporting of goods and desirable home characteristics is widespread, and that overreporting is common with respect to goods linked to social status. Larger program benefits encourage underreporting and discourage overreporting. The effect of benefits on underreporting is significant under a variety of specifications. We also investigate the effects of education and gender on misreporting.
    Date: 2006–06
  16. By: Edna Ullmann-Margalit
    Abstract: This paper is the last part of a three-part project. The larger picture is important for the proper framing of the present paper. Here then is an abstract of the three-part paper, which is about considerateness. Focusing on two extreme poles of the spectrum of human relationships, the paper argues that considerateness is the foundation upon which relationships are to be organized in both the thin anonymous context of the public space and the thick intimate context of the family. The first part of the paper introduces the notion of considerateness among strangers and explores the idea that considerateness is the minimum that we owe to one another in the public space. By acting considerately toward strangers—for example, by holding a door open so it does not slam in the face of the next person who enters—we show respect to that which we all share as people, namely, our common humanity. The second part explores the idea that considerateness is the foundation underlying the constitution of the exemplary family. I hypothesize that each family adopts its own particular distribution of domestic burdens and benefits and I refer to it as the “family deal.” The argument is that the considerate family deal embodies a notion of fairness that is a distinct, family-oriented notion of fairness. The third part of the larger paper—which is the part I present here—takes up the notion of family fairness and contrasts it with justice. In particular, I take issue with Susan Okin’s notion of the just family and develop, instead, the notion of the not-unjust fair family. Driving a wedge between justice and fairness, I propose that family fairness is partial and sympathetic rather than impartial and empathic, and that it is particular and internal rather than universalizable. Furthermore, I claim that family fairness is based on ongoing comparisons of preferences among family members. I finally characterize the good family as a not-unjust family that is considerate and fair.
    Date: 2006–08
  17. By: Visser, Martine (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Burns, Justine (University of Cape Town, Private Bag,)
    Abstract: We explore the effect of income inequality and peer punishment on voluntary provision of public goods in an experimental context. Our sample draws from nine fishing communities in South-Africa where high levels of inequality prevail. We find that aggregate cooperation is higher in both the voluntary contribution mechanism (VCM) and punishment treatments for unequal groups. Once peer sanctioning is introduced over-contribution by low relative to high endowment players observed in the VCM treatment is significantly enhanced. Demand for punishment by low and high endowment players are similar, irrespective of differences in relative costs, and in unequal groups free-riding is punished more, specifically by low endowment players. We observe inequality aversion both in endowments and with respect to the interaction of endowments and contributions: high endowment players receive more punishment, but also receive more punishment for negative deviation from the group mean share. <p>
    Keywords: Inequality; cooperation; punishment; public goods experiments
    JEL: C90 D63 H41 Q20
    Date: 2006–08–31

This nep-soc issue is ©2006 by Fabio Sabatini. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.