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Exploration in teams and the encouragement effect: Theory and experimental evidence

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  • Emma Von Essen
  • Marieke Huysentruyt, HEC School of Management, Stockholm School of Economics
  • ,
  • Topi Miettinen, Stockholm School of Economics, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki Graduate School of Economics

This paper analyzes a two-person, two-stage model of sequential exploration where both information and payoff externalities exist and tests the derived hypotheses in the laboratory. We theoretically show that, even when agents are self-interested and perfectly rational, the information externality induces an encouragement effect: A positive effect of first player exploration on the optimality of the second player exploring as well. When agents have other-regarding preferences and imperfectly optimize, the encouragement effect is strongest. The explorative nature of the game raises the expected surplus compared with a payoff equivalent public goods game. We empirically confirm our main theoretical predictions using a novel experimental paradigm. Our findings are relevant for motivating and managing groups and teams innovating not only for private but also and especially so, for public goods.

TidsskriftManagement Science
Sider (fra-til)5861-5885
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2020

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