I am a PhD candidate in economics at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. My supervisors are Martin Kocher and Florian Englmaier. My research interest lies in behavioral & experimental economics, personnel economics, and organizational economics. You can find my CV here.

E-Mail: marvin[dot]deversi[at]econ[dot]lmu[dot]de

Working Papers

Cooperation in a Company: A Large-Scale Experiment (pdf)

(with Martin Kocher and Christiane Schwieren; AEARCTR-0002596)

We analyze cooperation within a company setting in order to study the relationship between cooperation attitudes and financial as well as non-financial rewards. In total, 910 employees of a large software company participate in an incentivized online experiment. We observe high levels of cooperation and the typical conditional contribution patterns in a modified public goods game. When linking experiment and company record data, we observe that cooperative attitudes of employees do not pay off in terms of financial rewards within the company. Rather, cooperative employees receive non-financial benefits such as recognition or friendship as the main reward medium. In contrast to most studies in the experimental laboratory, sustained levels of cooperation in our company setting relate to non-financial values of cooperation rather than solely to financial incentives.

Cooperation, Free-Riding, and the Signaling Value of Incentives: An Experiment in a Company (pdf)


Economists and management scholars have argued that the scope of incentives to increase cooperation in organizations is limited as their use signals the prevalence of free-riding among employees. This paper tests this hypothesis experimentally, using a sample of managers and employees (N = 449) from a large software company. In the experiment, I exogenously vary whether managers are informed about prevailing cooperation levels among employees before they can set incentives to promote cooperation. Comparing informed versus uninformed incentive choices, the data reveals strong positive effects of incentives that are unaffected by the hypothesized signaling effect. The absence of such effect seems related to the perception of managers’ intentions, a mitigating factor that has not been explored in the literature so far.

Spin Doctors: An Experiment on Vague Disclosure (pdf)

(with Alessandro Ispano and Peter Schwardmann)

Unfavorable news are often delivered under the disguise of vagueness. But are people sufficiently naive to be fooled by such positive spin? We use a theoretical model and a laboratory experiment to study the strategic use of vagueness in a voluntary disclosure game. Consider a sender who aims at inflating a receiver's estimate of her type and who may disclose any interval that contains her actual type. Theory predicts that when facing a possibly naive receiver, the sender discloses an interval that separates her from worse types but is upwardly vague. Senders in the experiment adopt this strategy and some (naive) receivers are systematically misled by it. Imposing precise disclosure leads to less, but more easily interpretable, disclosure. Both theory and experimental data further suggest that imposing precision improves overall information transmission and is especially beneficial to naive receivers. Our results have implications for the rules that govern the disclosure of quality-relevant information by firms, the disclosure of research findings by scientists, and testimonies in a court of law.

Complexity and Appropriation Interact in Affecting Compliance Behavior (pdf)

(with Charles Bellemare and Florian Englmaier)

Filing income tax returns or insurance claims often requires that individuals comply with complex rules to meet their obligations. We present evidence from an experiment showing that the effects of complexity on compliance are intrinsically linked to the usage of taxes (i.e., their appropriation). We find that compliance remains largely unaffected by complexity when income taxes are distributed to a deserving cancer charity. Conversely, complexity significantly amplifies non-compliance when income taxes appear wasted as they are distributed to a luxury yacht club. Our data further suggests that this non-compliance pattern is facilitated through filing mistakes that serve to alleviate the psychological costs from non-compliance. We discuss the implications of these results for governments who jointly design tax rules and redistribute income.

Work in Progress

Guiding Managers to Increase Wage Equity: A Field Experiment in a Company

(with Dirk Sliwka; AEARCTR-0005389)