Friday, October 21, 2016

Team Production and Gift Exchange

I think the story that attracts me the most is sharing marbles. Michael Tomasello and Katharina Hanmann, two German developmental psychologists, set up an experiments with 3 years old children who can get marbles as rewards by pulling ropes on a machine. These children may be better off if they engage in gift exchanging and team work. The experiment has three different scenarios. The first one is that two children pull ropes together, but one of the children gets 3 marbles while the other can only get one. The result of this scenario shows that children will equalize their marbles around 75% of the time. The second scenario is that 2 children will receive marbles. However, one will have three times more marbles than the other one. The result of this scenario shows that the one with more marbles will not give off their rewards to the other one who has less marbles. The last scenario is that 2 children do not pull the ropes together to get marbles. Nonetheless, one will get 3 marbles for every pulling while the other can only get 1. In this case, the result shows that about 30% of children would choose to equalize their marbles. I believe the article overall want to use the example to show that procedural fairness is more important than distributive fairness in economics.

An example I can think of is me and my best friend Phil. When I came to the states at the beginning, I didn’t have a car. Phil, on the other hand, had one. We both loved road trip and hiking. Thus, I will usually take care of the itinerary and accommodation, and Phil would drive. In this case, Phil provided the transportation to exchange for a well-planed travel. I could also get a ride to the destination by doing the trip preparation. The situation changed when I bought a car on sophomore year, since we both had cars, we both were lazy to do the trip itinerary. This is similar to the second scenario in the experiment that I mention above. Another good example for this is definitely camping. I love going outdoor and hike through all kinds of national parks. Usually I will go with bunch of friends. When I get to our camping spot, some guys will do the tent sett-up, girls will usually cover the food and BBQ preparation. I think the team production and gift exchange in this case are we all do work that we are good at and share all resources as a team.

However, team production with gift exchange can be somehow unfair. Take group project as an example, in most of my experience of doing group projects, there will always be 1 or 2 free riders who do minimal work. But we all receive the same grade at the very end. Thus, as far as I am concern, individual work may be more efficient than team work in particular situation.      

1 comment:

  1. I wish you had spent some time discussing how you might overcome the free rider problem, rather than assume that outcome is inevitable. Some teams do function well. Other teams might be functioning poorly but then have a meeting to clear the air and perform better after that. What would have been interesting to write about is how the clearing the air meeting relates to the sharing the marbles piece. I was hoping for something like that in this post.