Do Intentions Matter for Empowerment? Procedural Justice in Simple Bargaining Games

Dorothea K Herreiner, Economics Department, Loyola Marymount University

Giving an affected person some control in a decision-making process generally increases the satisfaction with the outcome because participation contributes to procedural justice. Empowering a receiver in a simple bargaining game by providing the option to reject a proposal (ultimatum game) instead of imposing a proposal (dictator game) leads to more equitable outcomes as Shor (2007) shows. Whether empowerment itself matters, i.e. the fact that the receiver can influence outcomes, or the implicit recognition by the proposer that the receiver is disadvantaged, i.e. the intention behind the empowerment, remains an open questions addressed in this experimental study. Several variants of Shor’s empowerment game (choice between ultimatum and dictator game) are considered where the choice to empower the receiver is made by the proposer, randomly, or a third party. Significant differences emerge between proposals depending on the empowerment of the receiver and in the frequency with which the receiver is empowered; the intentionality behind the empowerment decisions, however, does not seem to make a significant difference. Keywords: Procedural Justice, Empowerment, Bargaining
JEL Classification: C91, D63, O17

Current Version: April 2009   [pdf]