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«Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades Doctor oeconomiae publicae (Dr. oec. publ.) an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München vorgelegt ...»

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Non-Standard Behaviour in Organisational

Economics and Individual Choice

Econometric Evidence from the Field

Inaugural-Dissertation

zur Erlangung des Grades

Doctor oeconomiae publicae (Dr. oec. publ.)

an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

vorgelegt von

Thomas Kolaska

Referent: Professor Dr. Florian Englmaier

Korreferent: Professor Dr. Uwe Sunde

Promotionsabschlussberatung: 6. November 2013

Danksagung

Vier Jahre sind vergangen, seit ich im Oktober 2009 begann an der “Ludwig-MaximiliansUniversität München” zu promovieren. Die Dissertation nun in Händen zu halten, verdanke ich einer Reihe an Personen, ohne deren Unterstützung die Promotion in dieser Form nicht möglich gewesen wäre.

An vorderster Stelle steht hierbei mein Erstbetreuer Florian Englmaier. Bereits weit vor dem Beginn meiner Promotion, ich war damals Master Student an der “Universitat Pompeu Fabra”, wurde ich von ihm – glücklicherweise erfolgreich – überzeugt, an die “Universität München” zurückzukehren. Dort angekommen, wurde ich ungeachtet seiner zeitweisen Berufungen nach Konstanz und Würzburg mit einer nicht für möglich gehaltenen Intensität betreut, welche schließlich unter anderem in einem gemeinsamen Papier – zusammen mit Steve Leider, dessen Kommentare mich sehr weiterbrachten – resultierte.

Aber vor allem der Zuspruch in schweren Phasen, in Zeiten in denen ich glaubte, mich in Sackgassen zu befinden, bedeuteten für mich, dass ich nie – während all der vier Jahren nicht – in jenes “Loch” fiel, vor dem sich viele Doktoranden berechtigterweise fürchten.

Immer dann Zuversicht zu vermitteln, wenn sie nötig war, war rückblickend mindestens ebenso wichtig wie seine fachliche Unterstützung. Ich glaube nicht, dass viele Doktoranden das Glück einer derartigen Betreuung haben.

Uwe Sunde als Zweitgutachter fragte ich leider erst an, als ich bereits weit fortgeschritten war in meiner Arbeit. Trotzdem profitierten meine Papiere durch die Einarbeitung seiner Kommentare und Anregungen maßgeblich. Besonders in Erinnerung bleibt mir hier ein sehr langes Gespräch mit ihm an einem trüben Winternachmittag, bei dem ich sein ehrliches Interesse an meiner Arbeit spürte.

Ebenso danken möchte ich hier meinem Drittbetreuer Ray Rees. Indirekt habe ich es mitunter ihm zu verdanken, mich zu einer Promotion entschieden zu haben. In einem von ihm angebotenen Seminar, an dem ich als Bachelorstundent teilnahm, entdeckte ich meine Leidenschaft für die Wissenschaft, eine Erkenntnis, die entscheidend meinen Lebensweg beeinflusste. Somit freute es mich besonders, als Ray Rees einwilligte, als Drittbetreuer zu fungieren. In gewisser Weise schloss sich dadurch ein Kreis.

Danksagung Eine unglaublich schöne und gleichsam arbeitsintensive Zeit hatte ich mit Lukas Buchheim, dessen unermüdliches Interesse und dessen Wunsch zur Perfektion mir nicht gedachte Leistungen abverlangten. Gerade das Projekt mit ihm gilt für mich als Musterbeispiel, wie inspirierend es sein kann, gemeinsam über Probleme nachzudenken.

Sascha Becker ermöglichte es mir als Gastwissenschaftler einige Monate an der “University of Warwick” zu verbringen. Diese Zeit ist mir wärmstens in Erinnerung. In einem äußerst angenehmen Umfeld von Doktorandinnen und Doktoranden, sowie spannenden Seminaren war dies eine der produktivsten Phasen meiner Dissertation. Im Endspurt schrieb ich dort mein drittes Papier.

Danken möchte ich in gleichem Maße meiner Familie, die mir immer unter die Arme griff und versuchte mich zu entlasten. Besonderer Dank gilt Isabelle, die mir in all den Jahren den Rücken frei hielt, mich in arbeitsreichen Phasen besonders unterstützte und klaglos “ertrug”, wenn ich mal wieder über Wochen hinweg ein Vielfaches an Zeit mit meinen Koautoren verbrachte und daher nur selten zu Hause war. In gleichem Maße allerdings will ich ihr für die kritische Auseinandersetzung mit meiner Arbeit danken, die mich immer wieder veranlasste, die großen Fragen zu stellen.

Contents

–  –  –

A.1 Effect of Purchase-Date Weather on Ticket Orders for Repeat Customers 93 A.2 Predictive Power of Current Weather and Forecast............ 94 A.3 Predictive Power of Current Weather without Forecast.......... 95

–  –  –

This dissertation consists of three contributions which analyse non-standard behaviour in organisational economics and individual decision making. Every chapter corresponds to one essay and can be read independently of each other.

Non-standard behaviour of individuals in economic situations has been documented over the last two decades in various laboratory and increasingly many field experiments.1 Various scholars acknowledge that a non-negligible fraction of individuals seems to systematically deviate from rational behaviour as predicted under standard assumptions – a finding which applies to several dimensions of human behaviour. Two important areas of behavioural research, preferences for fairness and erroneous predictions of future utility, play a central role in this dissertation.

Despite several advances over the last years, the fundamental question of how to evaluate the impact of behavioural economics on other fields of economics remains: Should we amend our standard models in favour of more realism at the potential expense of providing clear-cut statements and policy implications? Indirectly Camerer et al. (2011) agree on that question and propose to “gradually replace simplified models based on stricter rationality” (p. 42) with behavioural models and to view results under standard assumptions as a special case of a “more general, behaviorally grounded theory” (p. 42). Following this approach, however, it is inevitable to develop an understanding for the relevance of any of the behavioural biases which were established in the laboratory.





A first, tentative avenue to qualify the importance of various biases is to move away from the laboratory and test whether behaviour observed under artificial conditions can also be identified in market situations. This proceeding can provide evidence on the robustness and the quantitative importance of non-standard behaviour. Results may act as a guideline to gain confidence whether behavioural aspects can “survive markets” and may even influence general equilibrium outcomes.

This methodological approach will be applied in the following thesis: The focus of each essay lies in the exploitation of field data, implying that empirical evidence presented See for early laboratory contributions for example Güth et al. (1982) or Thaler (1988).

Preface

in this dissertation entirely relies on real-world observations. This comes along with econometric challenges because the scope to control for external influences using field data is truly limited. The lack of control is addressed by exploiting exogenous variation, as done in the first chapter. Here we provide evidence for the existence of erroneous individual purchase decisions under risk.

However, as already stressed by Stefano DellaVigna, the natural step after documenting non-standards behaviour is to identify “how [do] markets and institutions respond to these nonstandard features” (DellaVigna (2009), p. 361). Shedding light on that question is the aim of the second part of this dissertation which combines two contributions in the field of personnel economics, exploring the importance of social preferences in intra-firm interactions between employers and employees.

The first chapter of this dissertation, “Projection Bias under Risk”, is joint effort with Lukas Buchheim. In this contribution, we empirically show that purchase decisions may systematically deviate from predictions based on expected utility theory. Standard models commonly assume that individuals combine all relevant information optimally when deciding under risk. Contrary to this, Loewenstein et al. (2003) suggest that decision makers excessively weigh utility at the current state of the world. In its simplest version, projection bias assumes that individuals predict future utility by combining utility at the current state with predictions based on expected utility theory, even though any informativeness of the current state should already be included in rational expectations.

Depending on the predictive power of the current state for future states, such behaviour may seriously bias outcomes.

We test for projection bias in the case of an outdoor movie theatre and find that weather conditions at the purchase day largely drive the number of advance ticket sales. Decisive for the utility, customers derive from a visit at the cinema, however, is weather at the day of the screening because moviegoers are fully exposed to unpleasant weather like rainfall or low temperatures. As weather conditions are highly unstable in the region of the respective open-air cinema and tickets are non-refundable, buying tickets in advance and conditioning decisions on the current weather involves (unnecessary) high risk. This observation is consistent with projection bias as both the weather forecast, i.e. the piece of information customers under rational expectations make use of, and current weather are predictive for ticket sales. Furthermore we find that customers seem to be unaware of their erroneous behaviour and do not learn from mistakes. We conclude that from the fact that buying behaviour is independent of the time horizon between purchase date and screening day and likewise is unrelated to customers’ previous experience with the cinema.

Preface

Alternative explanations do not have any bite: We show that current weather is a very poor predictor for future weather and – even more important – does not contain information beyond the weather forecast. Furthermore we can rule out that correlations between the number of potential customers and weather are the (sole) driver of the results. Finally, capacity constraints of the cinema are not suitable to explain the observed pattern in advance sales.

In a broader context, the finding can have important implications for markets with higher trade volumes. Behavioural finance literature recently provided several examples in which purchasing decisions of investors are driven by current and past returns of the respective assets.2 In situations, in which current experience only poorly predicts future returns this behaviour may seriously bias investment and saving decisions with potentially severe consequences for individuals. By providing causal evidence for projection bias, we suggest a behavioural mechanism that is consistent with findings in this literature. Our results may hence help to develop de-biasing strategies, supporting individuals to make more informed decisions in the future.

The second and the third chapter of this thesis are closely related as both contributions make use of the same dataset of British firms, the 5th wave of the “Workplace Employment Relations Survey”. More importantly, however, both essays aim to provide answers on how non-standard behaviour, more precisely social preferences of employees, shape labour relations.

The second essay is joint work with Florian Englmaier and Stephen Leider. In this contribution, we relate various organisational choices of firms to the human resource practise of compulsory personality tests for job candidates, which we interpret as a predictor of reciprocity within organisations. Applying theoretical models on moral hazard with reciprocity, we regard reciprocity similarly to gift-exchange behaviour, where reciprocal behaviour of employees needs to be “activated” by a kind gesture of the employer. Most easily this can be achieved with wages which are higher than the employer expects to receive in comparable labour relations, but any other non-pecuniary benefit may trigger the same behaviour. As a response to that gesture, employees may return the gift by increasing effort.

But not all employees may be inclined towards reciprocal incentives which forces firms to select the “right” employees if they want to make use of social preferences: In that respects are personality tests among the most popular screening devices. Such tests are commonly designed on basis of the Five Factor model and aim to uncover personal and See for example Benartzi (2001), Kaustia and Knüpfer (2008), Barber et al. (2009) or Choi et al.

(2009).

Preface

social traits of individuals. Some of these traits precisely measure behaviour which is described by reciprocity in laboratory experiments. For that reason, we interpret the

use of personality tests for job candidates as an indicator for reciprocity within a firm:

Establishments which screen for personality should on average employ workers, who have a higher sensitivity towards gift-exchange motives than workers in firms which do not screen.

We find that personality tests are highly predictive of a series of benefits for employees:

Workers in firms with personality tests on average are less likely to receive very low wages and are more likely to be granted non-pecuniary benefits like an employer pension scheme and extended annual leave. Furthermore are these employees eligible to more training and also the matters, the training covers are defined broader, implying a higher general value to the employee. There also seems to be a tendency towards more job security in these firms. It is important to understand that some of these policies require substantial (nonmonetary) investments into an employee which partly deprives the employer of the option to discipline the worker later on. If however employees are inclined towards reciprocity and such policies are perceived as a kind gesture, then adverse behaviour against the employer should not occur.



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