Theory and Decision

, Volume 81, Issue 4, pp 581–599 | Cite as

Who are the voluntary leaders? Experimental evidence from a sequential contribution game

  • Raphaële Préget
  • Phu Nguyen-Van
  • Marc Willinger


We rely on the methodology of Fischbacher et al. (Econ Lett 71(3):397–404, 2001) in order to identify subjects’ behavioral types. We then link the likelihood to act as a leader in a repeated public goods game to the elicited behavioral types. The leader in a group is defined as the subject who voluntarily decides in the first place about his contribution. The leader’s contribution is then reported publicly to the remaining group members who take their contribution decisions simultaneously. Our main findings are that leaders emerge in almost all rounds and that subjects who are identified as conditional cooperators are more likely to act as leaders than other types, e.g., free-riders or triangle-contributors. We also find that voluntary leaders, irrespective of their behavioral type, contribute always more than followers. However, the presence of leadership does not prevent the decay that is commonly observed in linear public goods experiments.


Public goods Experimental economics Voluntary contribution mechanism Leadership 

JEL Classification

H41 C92 



We would like to thank Dimitri Dubois for his assistance in programming and running the experiments. Thanks also to Daniele Nosenzo who made some useful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this paper. The comments and suggestions of two anonymous referees were very helpful to improve the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raphaële Préget
    • 1
  • Phu Nguyen-Van
    • 2
  • Marc Willinger
    • 3
  1. 1.LAMETAINRAMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.BETA, CNRSUniversité de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance
  3. 3.LAMETAUniversité de MontpellierMontpellier Cedex 2France

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