nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2009‒08‒30
five papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. Voluntary Participation as a Determinant of Social Capital in France : Allowing for Parameter Heterogeneity By Marie Lebreton; Katia Melnik
  2. Demography vs. Context: A Cross-Country Survey of the Willingness to Rely on Trust in Business Partnerships By Francis Bidault; José R. de la Torre; Stelios H. Zanakis
  3. Counterpunishment revisited: an evolutionary approach By Wolff, Irenaeus
  4. Weak moral motivation leads to the decline of voluntary contributions By Charles FIGUIERES; Marc WILLINGER; David MASCLET
  5. Co-operative Stakeholders. Who Counts in Co-operatives, and How? By Caroline Gijselinckx

  1. By: Marie Lebreton (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II - Université Paul Cézanne - Aix-Marseille III - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales - CNRS : UMR6579); Katia Melnik (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II - Université Paul Cézanne - Aix-Marseille III - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales - CNRS : UMR6579)
    Abstract: This paper studies the effects of income, education and active memberships in voluntary organizations and clubs on "social capital" by using individual French data and allowing for parameter heterogeneity (Durlauf and Fafchamps, 2003). Survey responses to the questions concerning trust, social norms and individual involvement in the local life are used as proxies of social capital. The model developed in this paper is an Artificial Neural Network model or more precisely the Neuro-Coecient Smooth Transition Auto-Regressive (NCSTAR) model. It gives a vector of estimates for every observation of the dataset as a nonlinear function of its geographical position and its individual attributes. We show that accounting for parameter heterogeneity considerably improves the fit of the estimated model in comparison with the broadly used multinomial logit model. Our results suggest empirical evidences of signicant positive direct and indirect effects of active membership in voluntary organizations on trust (or rather trustworthiness, Glaeser et al, 2000) and individual's involvement in his or her community's life. This finding supports the considering of membership in voluntary organizations in France as promoting the values of cooperation and positive tendency towards public issues. However, the studied relationships are not stable across French departments and some regional patterns are detected.
    Keywords: Social capital, Parameter heterogeneity, Neural network models.
    Date: 2009–08–21
  2. By: Francis Bidault (ESMT European School of Management and Technology); José R. de la Torre (Florida International University); Stelios H. Zanakis (Florida International University)
    Abstract: We explore the determinants of the willingness to rely on trust in a business partnership where both partners are at risk. By focusing on the willingness to rely on trust (WTRT) we reduce the methodological challenge of perception-based approaches where trust is measured as an expectation on the partner's behavior. Executives in several countries were presented with a proposal for a business partnership and were asked about the level of safeguards they would require in the agreement, their main concerns as to future conditions, and to what extent their views would be affected by several behaviors and/or events. Twelve hypotheses are tested using path analysis and multiple/hierarchical regressions. Whereas our findings confirm prior results on differences in the propensity to trust between nationalities, they suggest that several organizational, functional and contextual variables mediate their impact in determining WTRT in inter-organizational ventures. Among these are the partners' cultural proximity, their concerns about business risk, and two organizational demographics regarding the size of the organization. In addition, we found that sensitivity to external information on partner's benevolence and the respondent's education and industry affected WTRT significantly.
    Keywords: inter-organizational trust, willingness to rely on trust, trustworthiness, contractual safeguards, international joint ventures, business partnerships, international business
    Date: 2009–07–13
  3. By: Wolff, Irenaeus
    Abstract: Evolutionary game theory has shown that in environments characterised by a social-dilemma situation punishment may be an adaptive behaviour. Experimental evidence closely corresponds to this finding but yields contradictory results on the cooperation-enhancing effect of punishment if players are allowed to retaliate against their punishers. The present study sets out to examine the question of whether cooperation will still be part of an evolutionary stable strategy if we allow for counterpunishment opportunities in a theoretic model and tries to reconcile the seemingly contradictory findings from the laboratory. We find that the apparent contradictions can be explained by a difference in the number of retaliation stages employed (one vs many) and even small differences in the degree of retaliativeness.
    Keywords: Public goods; Strong reciprocity; Conformism; Counter-punishment; Evolution of behavior
    JEL: H4 H41 C90 C7 C73
    Date: 2009–06
    Abstract: This paper provides a general framework that accounts for the decay of the average contribution observed in most experiments on voluntary contributions to a public good. Each player balances her material utility loss from contributing with her psychological utility loss of deviating from her moral ideal. The novel and central idea of our model is that people.s moral motivation is "weak": their judgement about what is the right contribution to a public good can evolve in the course of interactions, depending partly on observed past contributions and partly on an intrinsic "moral ideal". Under the assumption of weakly morally motivated agents, average voluntary contributions can decline with repetition of the game. Our model also explains other regularities observed in experiments, in particular the phenomenon of over-contributions compared to the Nash prediction and the so-called restart e¤ect, and it is compatible with the conditional cooperation hypothesis.
    Date: 2009–08
  5. By: Caroline Gijselinckx (HIVA, Catholic University of Leuven)
    Abstract: Who counts in co-operatives, and how? In this paper empirical results are presented from recent quantitative and qualitative studies on Belgian co-operatives in which questions about who counts in co-operatives and how were treated (Develtere, Meireman & Raymaekers, 2005; Dujardin, Mertens & Van Opstal, 2008; Van Opstal, Gijselinckx & Wyns, 2008; Van Opstal & Gijselinckx, 2008). The exploratory empirical evidence is presented after a brief overview of recent insights in stakeholder theory, inspiring the way co-operatives’ stakeholders can be conceived. Although in stakeholder theory multiple types of stakeholders are distinguished, the evidence presented leads us to the conclusion that a continuum between weak and strong models of multi-stakeholdership can be observed in Belgian co-operatives, with most of the cooperatives studied situated in the classical single-member model and weaker models of multistakeholdership. We look for explanations for the emerging pattern and try to formulate ways to overcome hindrances for the development of multi-stakeholder co-operative entrepreneurship, especially in the provision of quasi public goods and services, a gingerly growing field in the Belgian co-operative sector.
    Keywords: co-operatives, stakeholder theory, multi-stakeholdership, member involvement, member participation, member advantages, corporate social responsibility
    JEL: G39 J54 M14 P13
    Date: 2009–08

This nep-soc issue is ©2009 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.