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

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

Working Papers

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 Distributive Fairness 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 a tax experiment suggesting that the effects of complexity on compliance are intrinsically linked to distributive fairness. We find that compliance remains largely unaffected by complexity when income taxes are distributed to a morally justified charity. Conversely, complexity significantly amplifies non-compliance when income taxes appear wasted as they are distributed to a morally dubious charity. Our data further suggest that this non-compliance pattern is facilitated through filing mistakes.

Work in Progress

Cooperation in a Company: A Large-Scale Experiment

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

We analyze cooperation within a company setting in order to study the external validity and financial consequences of a cooperative attitude. In total, 910 employees of a large software company participate in an incentivized online experiment. We observe high levels of cooperation in a modified public goods game. When linking experiment and company record data, cooperation attitudes are predictive for the sending and receiving of non-monetary recognition awards distributed among work team members which corroborates the external validity of our measure. At the same time, we observe evidence that less cooperative employees are more financially appreciated in terms of yearly compensation rises and financial awards conferred by managers. We conduct heterogeneity analyses with respect to differences in pay schemes, production functions of tasks, and team compositions to analyze mechanisms that can explain our results.

Do Incentives Signal Cooperation? A Follow-Up Experiment in a Company

(AEARCTR-0003931, draft in preparation)

A common management practice to foster a cooperative culture among employees of a company is to provide additional incentives to cooperate. For example, through managers or institutional arrangements that allocate monetary rewards to more cooperative employees. However, behavioral economic theory as well as evidence from the experimental laboratory suggest that such incentive choices can induce unintended side effects. It is argued that incentives can signal bad (or good) news about the prevalence of uncooperative players. As a consequence, incentives can have limited or even counterproductive effects on cooperative behavior. Do incentive choices work as information devices in a more natural environment, namely, in a company that wants to foster cooperation? In this project, I report the results of a fully-incentivized online experiment with about 50 managers and around 450 employees from a large company. It focuses on the effects of managers’ incentive choices on the cooperation culture among employees measured in an online public good experiment.

Norms of Cooperation: An Experimental Vignette Study in a Company

(with Martin Kocher, Christoph Schweighofer, and Christiane Schwieren; AEARCTR-0002596; draft in preparation)

We study the psychological determinants and outcomes of cooperation within a large company. We link a set of vignettes that describe social dilemma situations with incentivized coordination games to elicit the norms of cooperation prevailing among 910 employees. Our first empirical results show strong differences between injunctive and descriptive norm perceptions both measured between and within participants: Selfish behavior is deemed socially inappropriate but is occurring relatively frequently in the company. In addition, norm perceptions have predictive power for cooperation levels among employees and other relevant psychological outcome variables (like team cohesion, work satisfaction and work-related stress levels). Using additionally measured cooperation preferences of employees, we separately analyze how incentive schemes in the company shape norms of cooperation versus how employees with different social preferences select into incentive schemes.