SBEE Seminar Series: David Cooper

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

201 Lorch Hall, 611 Tappan St., Ann Arbor 

The Social, Behavioral and Experimental Economics lecture series is sponsored by the School of Information, the Ross School of Business and the Department of Economics. Speakers from U.S. and international universities present their research at weekly seminars in winter 2017.

Learning and Contagion in Teams

We study learning in a game where there is an optimal strategy. Learning the optimal strategy involves solving a “eureka” type logic problem, as it requires grasping an insight that is hard to learn but, once learned, can easily be explained to other people. Individuals only learn slowly to use the optimal strategy, with two subject teams with fixed members performing no better than individuals.  Rematching teammates into new two subject teams immediately results in a large and persistent increase in use of the optimal strategy.  This is driven by “mixed” teams, where one teammate was previously in a team that did not play optimally and one was in a team that did play optimally. These mixed teams almost always adopt the optimal strategy, consistent with a truth wins model.  This has important implications for any setting where decision makers are likely to be groups rather than individuals, as reshuffling team membership may be an important source of learning how to play strategically. 

Speaker bio:
David J. Cooper currently holds the Brim Eminent Scholar Chair in Economics at Florida State University.  He is a graduate of Harvard University (A.B., 1988) and Princeton University (PhD, 1993).  Dr. Cooper’s research focuses on experimental economics with applications to game theory, managerial decision making, and entrepreneurship.  He has written papers on learning in strategic settings, decision making by teams in strategic settings, overcoming coordination failure within organizations, and the role of communication in fostering collusion.  His work has appeared in, among others, the American Economic Review, the Journal of Economic Theory, the Rand Journal of Economics, Management Science and the Journal of the European Economic Association.  Dr. Cooper has previously served as editor-in-chief for Experimental Economics and is currently a member of the board for Games and Economic Behavior.  He has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation as well as other sources.