Sera Linardi

I am a PhD candidate in Economics at HSS at Caltech. My research is in applied microeconomics and behavioral economics, utilizing experimental methods. I am also particularly interested in applications in social enterpreneurship and organizational design. My thesis committee members are John Ledyard (advisor), Colin Camerer, and Tom Palfrey.

I am on the 2009/2010 Economics Job Market. Here are my:


Papers under revise and resubmit

  • Job Market Paper:
    No Excuses for Good Behavior, with Margaret McConnell

    This paper investigates the effect of excuses and monitoring on voluntary contributions of time and effort through a lab experiment where subjects are engaged in an actual nonprofit's operation. Starting from Benabou and Tirole (2006) theoretical framework, we decompose image concerns into stigma and visibility and analyze them within a dynamic social enviroment. When excuses are not available, the number of minutes volunteered increases without affecting the quality of work. Social image concerns are complex: while the presence of a larger audience of peers increases the willingness to volunteer, the presence of a monitor reduces volunteering. Furthermore, we see evidence of non-linearities in stigma; subjects avoid being the first to stop volunteering but are more likely to stop once others have stopped.   pdf

  • Prediction Market Alternatives for Complex Environments, with Paul J. Healy, John Ledyard, and Richard Lowery

    In many environments, prediction markets aggregate information and accurately estimate the probability of future events. But, these markets have typically performed best in simple situations with many traders and few securities. We test the standard prediction market mechanism in a complex environment with several securities and few traders. We compare its performance to three alternative mechanisms for aggregating information. In the complex environment the performance of the prediction market is dominated by a simple iterative polling mechanism. We analyze four behavioral conjectures that explain why the poll performs better in the complex setting.   pdf

    Working Papers

  • Accounting for Noise in the Microfoundations of Information Aggregation

    Evidence from experimental asset markets of noisy and approximate convergence to the full information posterior suggests that decisions made using the output of information aggregation mechanisms are not always optimal. This paper aims to identify "difficult environments" where decision makers are better off relying on prior probabilities. I hypothesize that the mismatch between theory of full convergence and actual outcome can be anticipated by the mechanism robustness to white noise. Using white noise, I ex-ante rank four information structures on the likelihood of improving predictions about the states of the world using the Geanakoplos and Polemarchakis (1982) posterior revision process. Through a laboratory experiment, I find that subjects' communication is persistently affected by noise and the output of the process follows the ex-ante ranking.   pdf

  • Relational Contracting under Threats of Economic Downturns, with Colin Camerer

    This paper investigates the robustness of the "two-tiered labor market" experimental results of Brown, Falk and Fehr (2004) by subjecting relationships to stochastic interruptions. We study the impact of exogenous random "downturns" in which firms cannot hire workers for three periods. Surprisingly, the downturns do not harm aggregate market efficiency and actually raise average efficiency per trade slightly. The reason is that in the downturn sessions firms offer higher wages and request more effort, workers exert a little more effort.   pdf


  • Competition for Compliance: a Field Experiment at a Homeless Shelter with Tomomi Tanaka and Rajiv Sinha.
    We investigate the effect of a savings competition among the homeless on the duration and intensity of voluntary compliance to a rehabilitation program.

  • Volunteering and Image Concerns with Margaret McConnell, California Institute of Technology Social Science Working Paper #1282

    Does monetary incentives crowd out intrinsic motivation? We find that volunteering in a public setting signicantly increases time volunteered. Monetary incentives have little impact, although they are slightly more effective in a private setting. Our results suggest that organizations have more to gain by catering to volunteers' image concerns than by providing monetary benefits.   pdf

    Conference and Seminar Presentation

  • SISHOO (SISL-Yahoo!) Theory Workshop, Huntington Beach, December 2009 and 2007
  • Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics (SITE), August 2009
  • WEAI Graduate Student Dissertation Workshop, June 2009
  • Santa Clara University, April 2009
  • Middlebury College Workshop on Philanthropic Mechanism Design, April 2009
  • 4th IZA Workshop in Behavioral Labor, Bonn, Germany, October 2008
  • Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) Summer School on Development Economics, Alba di Canazei, Italy, July 2008
  • Economic Sciences Association World Meeting, Pasadena, USA, June 2008
  • American Economic Association, ASSA 2008 Annual Meeting, New Orleans, January 2008
  • Caltech Brownbag Series, Pasadena, California, December 2007
  • Association for Research on Nonprofit Organization and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), 2007 Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, November 2007.
  • Economic Sciences Association, North America Meeting, Tuscon, October 2009, 2008, 2007
  • Economic Sciences Association, 2007 Asia Pacific Meeting, Shanghai, China, August 2007
  • SISL Seminar Series, March and June 2007, May 2009

    Other stuff about me

  • My research falls under the Social And Information Sciences Laboratory (SISL) group. It's an interdisciplinary group composed of people from engineering, social sciences, and applied math.

  • I have been a board member of the Caltech chapter of Engineers For a Sustainable World for the past three years. We organize the ESW Fall Speakers series in conjuction with Professor Kenneth Pickar's Caltech-Guatemala service learning class: Product Design for the Developing World. Partial list of speakers we invited this year:
    For the past two years we have also put together the Caltech Alternative Career Fair.

  • In my past life (1999-2003) I was a software engineer at Adobe Systems. My BS is in Computer Science. It comes in handy as an experimenter.

  • I am from Pontianak, Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia. There is a big equator monument in the middle of town.


    Will Halim's photojournalism portfolio
    Boxing / kickboxing in Pasadena
    Food here is awesome
    LA Blues links