Public Discourse and Pro-Social Market Behavior

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Björn Bartling (U of Zurich)
24 Apr 2019 (Wednesday)
12:00 - 1:30 pm
Room 3301 (Lifts 17-18), Academic Building, HKUST

[Update 2019.04.17] The event is open to the public with limited seats available on a first come first serve basis.  

This paper studies the impact of public discourse on socially responsible market behavior. We extend the experimental market paradigm developed in Bartling et al. (2015), in which firms and consumers exchange products that differ in their social impact, with products that mitigate a greater degree of an externality imposed on third parties also cost more to produce. Prior to interacting in the market, we give market actors and impacted third parties the opportunity to discuss “socially appropriate” market behavior via a forum. We find that such public discourse substantially increases market social responsibility in two distinct samples, from Switzerland and China. We identify the mechanisms driving the impact of public discourse on pro-social market behaviors by having subjects discuss either behind or in front of a “veil of ignorance” regarding their roles in the market interaction and by varying whether we give affected third parties a voice in the discourse.

This seminar is co-organized with the Divison of Social Science, HKUST. 

About the Speaker

Björn Bartling is Professor of Economics at the University of Zurich and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Experimental Research on Fairness, Inequality and Rationality at the Norwegian School of Economics. He uses experimental methods to study the impact of non-selfish motivations on decision making, governance structures, and allocations in markets and institutions. His work has been published in leading economics journals like the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Review of Economic Studies, and Quarterly Journal of Economics.  [Find out more about Prof Bartling from his official webpage.

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