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Escaping the Reputation Trap: An empirical investigation

(with Nicole Stoelinga)

A reputation trap indicates a state of holding a bad reputation and not being able to escape it due to history dependence. It perpetuates itself because rational agents know that, even if they invest in good reputation, it is unlikely that the others will recognize this signal and deem it credible (Levine, 2019). However, one way out of the reputation trap is to have a third party or an international agency to signal the investment in good reputation to others on behalf of the bad reputation agent. In this paper, we test the empirical relevance of this argument by using the Olympic Games as the international agency to boost the reputation in terms of international trade. We specifically test whether hosting or bidding on the Olympic Games affects the international trade patterns of the host and bidding countries. We do so by building synthetic controls for host and bidder countries and identifying the trade effects of the Summer Olympics in the aftermath of the WWII. Our findings indicate that the hosting or bidding on Olympic Games bring about substantial trade effects. Nevertheless, the findings provide limited support for the reputation trap mechanism.

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Class Distinctiveness and Voting

It is widely assumed that class divisions in economic preferences have become increasingly blurred over time due to higher living standards. Nevertheless, the previous literature lacks a systematic method to quantify the extent of this blurring of class divisions –if it exists at all– and to track its evolution over time and across space. To this end, using predictive modeling, I first develop a new measure of class distinctiveness in economic preferences. I then estimate this new measure in 18 European countries for three points in time. After validating the newly developed measure, I test whether the class distinctiveness in economic preferences can explain the variation in the strength of class-based voting.

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Leadership, Social Networks and Workplace Climate Through a Gender Lens

(with Sule Alan, Gozde Corekcioglu, Matthias Sutter)

Using uniquely detailed data from over 1700 professionals in 23 large corporations, we show that the gender of leaders has a significant impact on the structure of social networks within firms. Homophilic professional ties among male workers characterize departments with male leadership. Female leadership breaks male homophily and create a less segregated workplace. In female-led departments, both males and females establish more professional links with their female colleagues and leaders. Workplace climate is healthier when workers establish professional support links with their leaders, and female leaders are significantly more likely than male leaders to develop such links with their subordinates. We also show that turnover is significantly lower in female-led departments. Our results suggest that increasing female presence in corporate decision-making positions may be a profitable way to improve organizational culture.

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, , 1900

Lecturer, Economics Department, University of Cologne