We worked with 79 groundnut-producing cooperatives comprising close to 2800 individuals. These cooperatives are part of two umbrella federations (i.e., conglomerates of cooperatives) in the Bassin Arachidier, which is the main groundnut production zone of Senegal. From November to December 2013, two leaders of each farmer group attended a two-day training conducted by two development specialists. The training focused on the potential, pitfalls, and conduct of collective commercialization; in particular, strategies for identifying distant buyers, negotiating prices, and organizing transportation. Participants were instructed to conduct a briefing meeting with all cooperative members upon returning to their village, to report the gist of what was covered during the training. Trainees were also provided with standardized booklets to keep records of each member's contribution to the group's sales in the upcoming commercialization season. A reward of 10,000 CFA (approximately 25 US dollars) was promised for filling in the booklets with all the requested information. All groups eventually received such reward.
After the training, during January 2014, enumerators went to the villages in order to elicit commercialization intentions from all cooperative members. Prior to doing so, they made sure that the leaders who had taken part in the training had held the "briefing" meeting. For each farmer group, all members who produced groundnuts for the 2014 commercialization season were asked how they intended to use their production. They had to split their anticipated harvest into (1) individual commercialization, (2) collective commercialization (via the cooperative), (3) inventories, and (4) other uses. They were told that the purpose of this survey was to better understand their decisions with regard to groundnut production. They were also informed that a subsequent group meeting would be held, where a message would be delivered to them. They were thus invited to attend that meeting.
The 79 groups were randomly allocated to one of the following four conditions, depending on the information that would be disclosed in the subsequent meeting:
First, in Condition A (the control group), members' intentions were not revealed. Enumerators announced that a follow-up survey would be conducted after the end of the commercialization period. This was also announced in Conditions B, C, and D.
Second, in Condition B members' aggregate intentions were revealed.
Third, in Condition C, members' aggregate intentions as well as the distribution of intentions among members were revealed. I.e., how many members intended to contribute 100kg; how many intended to contribute 200kg, and so on. This was most comparable to the cheap-talk treatment in the lab-in-the-field experiments (LFEs). See experimental design discussion further below.
Finally, in Condition D, the same information as in C was revealed, but the distribution of intentions was disaggregated by ordinary members versus cooperative leaders (defined as all members of the management committee which typically comprises 8 to 12 individuals).