Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Patrick Warren

Committee Member

Michael Makowsky

Committee Member

Wafa Hakim Orman

Committee Member

Robert Fleck


Chapter 1 examines delegation and communication as strategies in coordination games with uncertainty and social preferences. I construct a model where other-regarding partners attempt to coordinate over a binary choice with privately known utilities. Players can choose to either communicate by signaling their preferences or delegate the choice entirely to their partner. I characterize equilibrium behavior under various assumptions on information transmission and coordination risk. If coordination is risky, there is a type of "first mover advantage" where the first player to communicate her own-preference guarantees her ideal outcome when communication is honest revelation. When preference signals are cheap talk, players cannot credibly communicate own-preferences to solve the coordination problem, leading to equilibria where one player always delegates. When coordination is not risky, the game becomes one of pure information transmission where communication is inhibited by strong other-regarding preferences.

Chapter 2 presents a model of decision making comparing expertise and altruism as rationales for delegating decision rights. I show that these rationales have different underlying motivations, leading to different predictions in equilibrium delegation. For expertise-driven delegation, a decision maker is more likely to delegate to experts who agree with him. However, this "ally principle" is not present in altruistic delegation. An altruistic decision maker is more willing to delegate to individuals with whom she disagrees.

Chapter 3 presents a theoretic model and the results of a subsequent laboratory experiment to understand voter preferences over leader characteristics. We develop a two-stage model of elections where agents with heterogeneous competence and pro-social preferences must elect a representative entrusted with resources whose growth depends on their competence, but can extract resources for private gain. Voter decisions are informed by observation of candidate competence and decisions in a preceding trust game. A three category representative typology emerges from the model, wherein incentives for performative trustworthiness by "crooks" are counter-balanced by opportunities for costly signaling by "fair" and "honest" candidates. We find support for the models predictions in treatments varying in leader compensation and compulsory contributions to public resources. Incentives for "performative trustworthiness" result in voters conditionally weighting their decisions towards competence while also serving as a costly signal to earn risk-minimizing voters' benefit of the doubt.



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