The question addressed by this research was, “When structural circumstances make revolutionary action likely, under what conditions will a cooptation strategy prevent subordinate revolts?” Experimental procedures established a group status hierarchy consisting of a leader and two subordinates. Groups earned collective outcomes, and the leader usurped an inequitable portion of these outcomes. In this context, the first experiment shows that a cooptation strategy (i.e., offer of a promotion to one of two subordinates) inhibits subordinate revolts. Two additional experiments indicate that the cooptation strategy is most effective (a) if the offer (strategy) provides the target of cooptation a source of personal gain; (b) if the offer (strategy) is a result of the leader’s own volition, rather than situational constraints; and (c) if the leader conveys a strong commitment to follow through on the promotion offer. The results are interpreted with reference to subjective-expected-utility and reciprocity theories.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/edward_lawler/25/