Prisoner’s dilemma everywhere: weekend email from your boss edition

As our friends and fellow “forty-something” bloggers at Cheap Talk like to point out, prisoner dilemmas are everywhere. Suppose you are a junior manager at a large Fortune 500 corporation or a junior attorney/accountant at a firm. Your boss sends you an email on a Saturday. Monday is a national holiday. Do you respond immediately, or do you wait until Tuesday morning to reply? We suspect that the answer to this question depends on whether you think your boss has also sent emails out to any of your peers. If you wait until Tuesday to reply to your boss’s email, while your peers respond immediately to theirs, you look bad to your boss. If, however, your peers decide to wait until Tuesday to reply, then you should reply right away to your boss, since you will now look good. In other words, in the parlance of game theory, you should “defect” and respond immediately to emails from your boss in either case, regardless what your peers do.

This entry was posted in Cooperation, Deception, Economics, Game Theory. Bookmark the permalink.

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