Umberto Garfagnini

Dr Umberto Garfagnini



Umberto received his undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance from Bocconi University in 2005 and his PhD in Managerial Economics and Strategy from the Kellogg School of Management in 2011. He joined the University of Surrey as a full-time lecturer in August 2015.

Research interests

Microeconomic theory, information economics, experimental economics

Departmental duties

Exchange programme coordinator

University roles and responsibilities

  • Postgraduate Programme Director



    Piotr Evdokimov, Umberto Garfagnini (2018)Communication and Behavior in Organizations: An Experiment, In: Quantitative Economics Econometric Society

    We design a laboratory experiment to study behavior in a multidivisional organization. The organization faces a trade-off between coordinating its decisions across the divisions and meeting division-specific needs that are known only to the division managers, who can communicate their private information through cheap talk. While the results show close to optimal communication, we also find systematic deviations from optimal behavior in how the communicated information is used. Specifically, subjects’ decisions show worse than predicted adaptation to the needs of the divisions in decentralized organizations and worse than predicted coordination in centralized organizations. We show that the observed deviations disappear when uncertainty about the divisions’ local needs is removed and discuss the possible underlying mechanisms.

    Piotr Evdokimov, Umberto Garfagnini (2022)Higher-order learning (Dec, 10.1007/s10683-021-09743-6, 2022), In: Experimental economics : a journal of the Economic Science Association25(4)pp. 1267-1267 Springer Nature
    P Evdokimov, Umberto Garfagnini (2017)Third-party Manipulation of Conflict: An Experiment, In: Experimental Economics21(1)pp. 27-49 Springer Verlag

    We design a laboratory experiment in which an interested third party endowed with private information sends a public message to two con icting players, who then make their choices. We nd that third-party communication is not strategic. Nevertheless, a hawkish message by a third party makes hawkish behavior more likely while a dovish message makes it less likely. Moreover, how subjects respond to the message is largely una ected by the third party's incentives. We argue that our results are consistent with a focal point interpretation in the spirit of Schelling.

    U Garfagnini, B Strulovici (2016)Social Experimentation with Interdependent and Expanding Technologies, In: Review of Economic Studiespp. 1-35 Oxford Journals

    How do successive, forward-looking agents experiment with interdependent and endogenous technologies? In this article, trying a radically new technology not only is informative of the value of similar technologies, but also reduces the cost of experimenting with them, in effect expanding the space of affordable technologies. Successful radical experimentation has mixed effects: it improves the immediate outlook for further experimentation but decreases the value and the marginal value of experimentation in a longer term, resulting in less ambitious “incremental” experimentation and in a reduced size of radical experimentation. Incremental experimentation lowers the option value of similar technologies, which may spur a new wave of radical experimentation. However, experimentation eventually stagnates for all parameters of the model.

    U Garfagnini, M Ottaviani, P Sørensen (2014)Accept or reject? An organizational perspective, In: International Journal of Industrial Organization34pp. 66-74

    This paper compares the relative performance of different organizational structures for the decision of accepting or rejecting a project of uncertain quality. When the principal is uninformed and relies on the advice of an informed and biased agent, cheap-talk communication is persuasive and it is equivalent to delegation of authority, provided that the agent's bias is small. When the principal has access to additional private information, cheap-talk communication dominates both (conditional) delegation and more democratic organizational arrangements such as voting with unanimous consensus.

    Piotr Evdokimov, UMBERTO GARFAGNINI (2021)Higher-order Learning, In: Experimental economics Springer

    We design a novel experiment to study how subjects update their beliefs about the beliefs of others. Three players receive sequential signals about an unknown state of the world. Player 1 reports her beliefs about the state; Player 2 simultaneously reports her beliefs about the beliefs of Player 1; Player 3 simultaneously reports her beliefs about the beliefs of Player 2. We say that beliefs exhibit higher-order learning if the beliefs of Player k about the beliefs of Player k − 1 become more accurate as more signals are observed. We find that some of the predicted dynamics of higher-order beliefs are reflected in the data; in particular, higher-order beliefs are updated more slowly with private than public information. However, higher-order learning fails even after a large number of signals is observed. We argue that this result is driven by base-rate neglect, heterogeneity in updating processes, and subjects' failure to correctly take learning rules of others into account. JEL Classification: C90, D83, D89