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Current research

Béatrice Boulu-Reshef and Graciela Kuechle "Preemptive Signaling and the Emergence of Trust in Entrepreneurial Investments" (under review)

Principal-agent interactions in which the principal signals prosociality may achieve higher levels of trust and reciprocity if both parties care about social esteem. However, it is unclear whether such a separating equilibrium exists when the agent sends the signal first. This is relevant because in interactions such as entrepreneurial investments, the agent, i.e., the entrepreneur, has incentives to signal prosociality first in order to attract investment. To establish conditions for an equilibrium in which prosocial individuals engage in higher levels of trust and reciprocity, we extend Berg et al.’s (1995) trust game by incorporating a preemptive move in which the agent decides how much to donate to third parties. We apply the social esteem model of Ellingsen and Johannesson (2008) and show that, in addition to social esteem and altruism toward the other player, the feasibility of separating equilibria depends crucially on altruism toward third parties and the size of the donation.


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef and Constance Monnier-Schlumberger

"Do Sanctions or Moral Costs Prevent the Formation of Cartel-Type Agreements?" (under review)

Cartel decisions are made by managers. These decisions result in an increase in the company earnings at the expense of the earnings of a third party, typically consumers or business partners. Using laboratory experiments, this article studies the behavioral foundations of individuals’ willingness to engage in such cartel-type agreements in a context in which engaging in such agreements increases the cartelists’ earnings but reduces the earnings of a third participant. This reduction in earnings is a loss for the third participant but it can also be seen as a moral cost for the cartelists. The impact of sanctions – monetary, leniency, compliance, and exclusion – is investigated in a within-subject design and the impact of moral cost is tested in a between-subject design and at various levels of moral costs, which also allows us to test the robustness of the effects of sanction schemes in these different moral cost conditions. The results show that compliance and exclusion sanction schemes are vastly more effective deterrents than monetary and leniency sanction schemes. These results are robust to varying levels of moral costs, but also to varying levels of probabilities of detection and fines. Although statistically significant, the moral cost has an impact but its magnitude is limited, showing that participants are mainly sensitive to the monetary gains associated with cartel-type agreements and less sensitive to the reduction in earnings imposed on the third participant. Finally, being a woman and being risk-averse is associated with a lower propensity to engage in such agreements.


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef, Alexis Direr and Nicole von Wilkzur "Algorithmic vs. Human Portfolio Choice" (under review)

Robo-advisors that provide investment advice online on the basis of risk profiling questionnaires have recently made a breakthrough in the investment management industry. The validity and reliability of these questionnaires is crucial as profiling inaccuracies can lead to a mismatch between investment proposals and retail investors’ preferences. This paper uses data from a robo-advisor that makes portfolio recommendations to its potential users and lets them choose their risk exposure after having received this recommendation. Comprehensive information about savers’ characteristics allow us to investigate how the robo-advisor’s algorithm maps questionnaire’s answers into recommendations and to what extent users follow or deviate from the recommendation. The results provide evidence that risk profiles recommended by the robo-advisor are qualitatively aligned with financial portfolio theory. Although a variety of information is used by the algorithm, the recommendation is heavily based on answers about financial risk taking. A large majority of users follow the recommendation and as a result are also strongly influenced by their declared propensity to take financial risk. Factors influencing the recommendation like age, financial wealth and short-term liquidity needs are downplayed by savers. Factors not exploited by the algorithm like saving’s goals or professional occupation impact investors’ portfolio choice. Gender, although not taken into account by the algorithm, still influences savers’ choice after controlling for a wealth of potential confoundings.


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef and Nina Rapoport "Voluntary contributions in cascades: The tragedy of ill-informed leadership" (under review)

Voluntary contributions are often solicited in sequential and public settings where information on the quality of the fundraising project unfolds with the sequence of decisions. This paper examines how the different sources of information available to potential donors in such settings influence their decision-making. Contrary to most of the leadership literature, neither leaders nor followers in these settings have certainty about the quality of the fundraising project. We explore whether leaders remain influential, the extent to which they use their influence strategically, and the consequences on followers when leaders are misinformed. We combine an information cascade method with a modified public goods game to create a "Voluntary Contributions in Cascades" paradigm. Participants sequentially receive private signals about the state of the world, which determines the potential returns from the public good, and take two public actions: an incentivized prediction about the state of the world and a contribution to the public good. We find that participants' predictions mostly align with Bayesian predictions, and find no evidence for strategic or misleading predictions. Leaders' contributions are positively correlated with followers', suggesting they remain influential despite their limited informational advantage. This influence takes a tragic turn when leaders happen to be misinformed, as most misinformed leaders end up unintentionally misleading followers. We find that having a misleading leader is associated with a reduction in gains from contributions roughly twice as large as the reduction that stems from dividing the marginal-per-capita-return by two. Our results stress the significance of having well-informed leaders.


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef, Graciela Kuechle and Luise Rohland "When Prosocial Investments Signal Trustworthiness: Theory and Experiment" (under review)

This paper studies in theory and in a laboratory experiment the conditions under which prosocial investments signal trustworthiness. Results show that the choice alone of a prosocial investment, if the level of prosocial activity is not visible, does not increase investors’ transfers to prosocial investments but a visible high level of prosociality does as long as the prosocial activity is not too costly. The announcement of the level of prosocial activity is a valid signal of trustworthiness as the entrepreneurs who announce a higher level are more trustworthy. However, the prosocial entrepreneurs pay this signal “out-of-pocket” as they carry the cost of the prosocial activity by returning to the investors as much as the entrepreneurs who chose purely financial project. The mechanisms behind investors believing that prosocial entrepreneurs will be more trustworthy is that the mere project type is insufficient and information about the effective spillover is necessary; making that quantitative information visible allows investors to differentiate between investment opportunities. Furthermore, while entrepreneurs are found to respond to fiscal incentives by choosing more often the impact project under tax exemption, they prevent signal dilution by maintaining the level of spillover under tax exemption.



Béatrice Boulu-Reshef, Catherine Bruneau, Maxime Nicolas and Thomas Renault (2023) "An experimental analysis of investor sentiment", In: Bourghelle, D., Grandin, P., Jawadi, F., Rozin, P. (eds) Behavioral Finance and Assets Prices. Contributions to Finance and Accounting. Springer, Cham. 


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef and Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (2022) "The impact of distance on parochial altruism: An experimental investigation", The European Journal of Political Economy, 102222.


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef (2021) Possible in Economics. In Glaveanu V.P. (eds) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. (Palgrave Dictionary Entry)


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef, Charles A. Holt, Matthew Rodgers and Melissa Thomas-Hunt (2020), "The impact of leader communication on free-riding: An incentivized experiment with empowering and directive styles", Leadership Quarterly, 31(3): 101351. For the Special Issue "Economics of leadership". 


In French Béatrice Boulu-Reshef and Constance Monnier-Schlumberger (2019) "Lutte contre les cartels: Comment dissuader les "têtes brulées"?", Revue économique, 70(6): 931-943. Special issue on recent advances in experimental and behavioral economics.


In French Béatrice Boulu-Reshef and Constance Monnier-Schlumberger (2018) "Une évaluation expérimentale des dispositifs de lutte contre les cartels". Revue Concurrences, 4(88126): 74-82.


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef, Samuel H. Brott and Adam Zylbersztejn (2017) "Does Uncertainty Deter Provision to the Public Good?", Revue économique, 5: 16-23. Special issue on recent advances in experimental and behavioral economics.

Le Lec F., Alexopoulos T., Boulu-Reshef B., Fayant M-P, Zenasni F., Lubart T., Jacquemet N. (2017) "Courtship behavior: “The Out-of-my-league effect”". Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40.

Béatrice Boulu-Reshef, Irene Comeig, Robert Donze and Gregory Weiss (2016) "Risk Aversion in Prediction Markets: A Framed-Field Experiment", Journal of Business Research, 69(11): 5071-5075. Special Section on Turning Kurt Lewin on his head: Nothing is so theoretical as a good practice. Best Paper Award at the 2016 GIKA Annual Conference.


Graciela Kuechle, Béatrice Boulu-Reshef and Sean D. Carr (2016) "Prediction- and Control-Based Strategies in Entrepreneurship: The Role of Information", Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 10(1): 43-64. Special issue on Theories of Entrepreneurship.

Béatrice Boulu-Reshef (2015) "Towards a Personal Identity Argument to Combine Potentially Conflicting Social Identities", Review of Social Economy, 73(1): 1-18. (Lead article)


Anton S. Ovchinnikov, Béatrice Boulu-Reshef and Phillip E. Pfeifer (2014), "Balancing Acquisition and Retention Spending for Firms with Limited Capacity", Management Science, 60(8): 2002-2019. 

Béatrice Boulu-Reshef (2013) "Economics of the Firm and Economics of Identity: Why and How their Main Questions Overlap", Journal of Institutional Economics, 9(3): 363-379.


Béatrice Boulu-Reshef (2013), Book review of Individuals and Identity in Economics. By John B. Davis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011, Review of Social Economy, 71(4): 543-546.

Working Papers

Béatrice Boulu-Reshef "Cooperation and the Boundaries of the Firm: A Framed Field Experiment

Work in progress

"Leadership Communication, Transparency, and Skin-in-the-Game", with Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat

"Does Social influence in Field Fundraising Schemes Increase Donations?", with Aïda Diallo, Soffia Mun and Nina Rapoport 

"When to Hire the First Employee? Behavioral Evidence and Insights", with Charles Corbett and Anton Ovchinnikov 

"Inventory Management with Carryover in a Laboratory Setting: Going Beyond the Newsvendor Paradigm", with Charles A. Holt 

"The trust-to-investment game: An experimental framework for entrepreneurship research", with Adrian Calmettes, Klodiana Istrefi, Sofiia Mun, Romain Pfau and Luise Rohland

"Double-sided opportunism in infrastructure investments", with Ingy Helmy and Marian Moszoro

In French "Une analyse des questionnaires MiFID II", with Julia Bertin, Geneviève Helleringer and Pierre Jacquel

"Combining the Atomistic and Socially Embedded Conceptions of Corporate Culture: Personal Identity to the Rescue"


New projects

"Public policy and early-staged funding of innovations", with Herbert Dawid and Antoine Mandel

"What are Control Strategies in Entrepreneurship? An Economic and Experimental Approach", with Graciela Kuechle

"The Effect of Private and Public Returns on Donations: A Field Experiment", with Aïda Diallo

"Leading in the Shadow of Expectations: An Experimental Study"

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