Leadership and Social Cooperation: Experimental Analysis of Selection Mechanisms and Transparency

Kail Padgitt

Advisor: Daniel E Houser, PhD, Department of Economics

Truland Building, Conf Room
June 12, 2008, 08:00 PM to 07:00 PM


This dissertation addresses leadership as a mechanism for solving social dilemma problems. Leadership has become recognized as a method for engendering cooperation in groups. This dissertation offers experimental evidence on the role democratic leaders have to induce increased levels of cooperation. The experiment finds that democratically elected leaders are followed with less deviation and foster greater cooperation than randomly appointed leaders. Leadership has also been examined as a first-mover mechanism. This is not always realistic in an institutional setting. Instead actions are often chosen simultaneously. This dissertation examines the role leader transparency plays in fostering group cooperation. It offers a novel public goods experiment that finds transparent leaders are able to induce greater levels of cooperation within the group than leaders whose actions are veiled.