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Effective mechanisms to resolve resource allocation problems
Last registered on October 15, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Effective mechanisms to resolve resource allocation problems
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004847
Initial registration date
October 14, 2019
Last updated
October 15, 2019 9:50 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Maastricht University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Innsbruck
PI Affiliation
Pennsylvania State University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-10-14
End date
2020-12-23
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We analyze factors that explain the success of democratic institutions as a means to solve resource allocation problems. Our lab-in-the-field experiment investigates the following questions: Can democratic allocation mechanisms effectively resolve distributional conflict in the presence of ancient hostilities between groups? Does the risk of being exploited by the majority induce the minority to reject democratic allocation institutions and trigger inefficient conflict? Do restrictions of the majority's decision-making power resolve the distributional conflict and increase the success of democratic allocation institutions?
Our experiment is based on a game theoretic model in which two groups of unequal size decide whether to implement a given democratic allocation mechanism or to choose conflict before they observe the outcome of the allocation mechanism. Our main experimental variations address the impact of ethnic hostilities on the likelihood of conflict as well as the role of the--explicit and implicit--decision-making power of the majority. For the former, we compare the success of democratic institutions in the presence versus absence of ancient hostilities. For the latter, we compare two variants that make the political institutions more ‘inclusive’: (a) a change in the voting rule that strengthens the minority in the democratic allocation mechanism; and (b) the threat of triggering conflict as an implicit option to exert veto power in case of too unequal democratic resource allocations.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Glowacki, Luke, Florian Morath and Hannes Rusch. 2019. "Effective mechanisms to resolve resource allocation problems." AEA RCT Registry. October 15. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4847-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Our baseline treatment (“MAJ-DIFF”) implements majority voting as the mechanism to decide on the allocation in case the groups do not opt for conflict. The two groups are recruited from different ethnicities. As the first variation, the same game is played among individuals from the same ethnic group (treatment “MAJ-SAME”). As second and third manipulations, we change (a) the voting rule (treatment “PR-DIFF”) and (b) the timing of the game (treatment “MAJ-VETO”). In PR-DIFF we give each individual the same chance to decide the allocation outcome (as with a random dictator rule). In MAJ-VETO we change the sequence of actions, such that individuals can decide on conflict conditional on the outcome of the democratic allocation institution.
Intervention Start Date
2019-10-15
Intervention End Date
2019-12-18
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our main variable of interest is the likelihood of a choice of conflict in the four treatments. As secondary outcome variables, we compare (i) the allocation proposals under the different treatment conditions, (ii) individuals' beliefs about the choices of others, and (iii) the aggregation of individual choices to a joint group decision. Our main predictions are derived as the subgame-perfect Nash equilibrium of a standard game theoretic two-stage model of conflict which allows for in-group altruism and out-group spite.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
All of our outcomes are either individual or group choices. For answering our main research questions, we will analyze these decisions directly, i.e. without any subsequent transformation or further processing.
In post-experimental questionnaires, we will also elicit demographics, conflict experience, as well as attitudes (i) toward risk, (ii) different collective decision making institutions, and (iii) the own versus the other group. We will use these variables as controls in regression models explaining individual choice behavior as measured by the decision variables named above (under "Primary Outcomes (End Points)").
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Our baseline treatment (“MAJ-DIFF”) implements majority voting as the mechanism to decide on the allocation in case the groups do not opt for conflict. The two groups are recruited from different ethnicities. As the first variation, the same game is played among individuals from the same ethnic group (treatment “MAJ-SAME”). As second and third manipulations, we change (a) the voting rule (treatment “PR-DIFF”) and (b) the timing of the game (treatment “MAJ-VETO”). In PR-DIFF we give each individual the same chance to decide the allocation outcome (as with a random dictator rule). In MAJ-VETO we change the sequence of actions, such that individuals can decide on conflict conditional on the outcome of the democratic allocation institution.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Participants will be randomly assigned to sessions in a walk-into-the-lab manner. Sessions of different treatments will be randomized over the study’s data collection time frame.
Randomization Unit
Individual: participants are randomly assigned to a treatment, i.e. the treatment used in that particular session that they happen to take part in. Note that participants will be selected based on gender and their ethnicity: we only recruit male participants from two major ethnic groups residing in the study region and we form ethnically homogenous experimental sessions. We only recruit male participants in order to avoid gender effects when our participants interact within groups and have to make joint decisions. Ethiopia is a patriarchal country in which women traditionally are often excluded from democratic decision-making processes.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Our treatments are clustered in experimental sessions: We plan on running up to 10 sessions per treatment, each with either 6 or 12 participants.
Sample size: planned number of observations
240 adult male participants
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
60 participants in between 4 and 10 experimental sessions per treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Due to the experimental paradigm we use, our treatments need to have multiples of 30 subjects in order for the matching of minority and majority groups to work out. Thus, our sample size is a compromise between maximizing statistical power and logistical feasibility. Our main outcome is binary: choice of conflict vs. no conflict. Based on a two-tailed Fisher Exact Test with 60 independent observations per group, we can detect significant differences in proportions of down to about 25% with power = 0.8 at alpha = 0.05, i.e. medium to large effects with Cohen’s h ≥ 0.5.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Joint Ethics Committee of the Gutenberg School of Management & Economics of the Faculty of Law, Management and Economics of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Goethe University Frankfurt
IRB Approval Date
2019-09-24
IRB Approval Number
Application Morath (with Glowacki&Rusch), submitted August 20th, 2019