Sector-specific associations, trust, and survival of PPPs: A behavioral experiment based on the centipede game

Weißmüller, Kristina S.; Vogel, Rick (2020). Sector-specific associations, trust, and survival of PPPs: A behavioral experiment based on the centipede game. Journal of public administration research and theory, 31(3), pp. 578-595. Oxford University Press 10.1093/jopart/muaa050

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Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have become widespread in the delivery of public services. This study explores behavioral mechanisms of building and eroding trust in partnering across sectors at the micro-level of interaction between public and private partners. Combining classic theoretical concepts on the development of interorganizational trust and administrative behavior, this study derives theory suggesting that partners’ sector affiliation may have adverse signaling effects on individuals’ intention to uphold effective partnerships over time, and that this intent may be moderated by sector-specific associations. Tested with a novel and dynamic multi-stage behavioral experiment based on the classic centipede game conducted with German graduate students (N=482;Obs.=4,338), results suggest that sector affiliation functions as a strong but potentially misleading signal for partners’ strategic behavior in PPPs and that sector-specific associations asymmetrically moderate respondents’ will to collaborate. These findings contribute to a more nuanced theoretical understanding of the micro-foundations of strategic behavior particularly at nascent stages of PPPs, calling into question basic assumptions about coordination efficiency in cross-sectoral

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


11 Centers of Competence > KPM Center for Public Management

UniBE Contributor:

Weissmüller, Kristina Sabrina


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 350 Public administration & military science




Oxford University Press




Kristina Sabrina Weissmüller

Date Deposited:

18 Jan 2021 10:54

Last Modified:

18 Jun 2021 01:31

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Public-private partnership (PPP), strategic risk behavior, centipede game, public service motivation (PSM), behavioral public administration JEL: H83, D91, D81,C73




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