Once bitten: Defection and reconciliation in a cooperative enterprise

Kevin Gibson, William Bottom, J. Keith Murnighan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Business negotiations often involve cooperative arrangements. Sometimes one party will renege on a cooperative enterprise for short-term opportunistic gain. There is a common assumption that such behavior necessarily leads to a spiral of mutual antagonism. We use some of the philosophical literature to frame general research questions and identify relevant variables in dealing with defection. We then describe an experimental approach for examining the possibility of reconciliation and discuss the results of one such experiment where participants were the victims of defection. In contrast to the initial assumptions we found that many participants were willing to reconcile, and that penance conditions, when demanded, were less stringent than expected. We suggest that these findings warrant further study and have implications for business dealings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-85
Number of pages17
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Philosophy
  • Economics and Econometrics


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