Are Women More Attracted to Cooperation Than Men? [report]

Peter Kuhn, Marie-Claire Villeval
2013 unpublished
We conduct a real-effort experiment where participants choose between individual compensation and team-based pay. In contrast to tournaments, which are often avoided by women, we find that women choose team-based pay at least as frequently as men in all our treatments and conditions, and significantly more often than men in a well-defined subset of those cases. Key factors explaining gender patterns in attraction to co-operative incentives across experimental conditions include women's more
more » ... de women's more optimistic assessments of their prospective teammate's ability and men's greater responsiveness to efficiency gains associated with team production. Women also respond differently to alternative rules for team formation in a manner that is consistent with stronger inequity aversion 2 deeply ingrained in corporate cultures. We hope thereby to shed light on the causes of gender differences in occupational choice and wages, and on how changes in human resource management policy and corporate culture might make work environments more female-friendly. While it might be tempting to imagine that women are disproportionately attracted to cooperative environments because they have more other-regarding preferences (e.g. Andreoni and Vesterlund 2007), our results are more complex than this. On the one hand, we do find that women are significantly more likely than men to select team-based compensation in our baseline condition, where team production offers no efficiency advantages over individual production. Statistically, this gap can be explained by gender differences in confidence: essentially, the same confidence deficit that pushes women out of competitions pulls women into teams, where it is beneficial to have an abler teammate. On the other hand, men become much more likely to join teams and the gender gap vanishes when we introduce an instrumental reason for joining teams, in particular an efficiency advantage to team production. We also find that women's relative propensities to join a team are strongly affected by the experimental 'rules' for team formation. Specifically, when we replace Niederle-Vesterlund's group formation procedure by an arguably more realistic one where teams are formed by mutual consent, women's team formation rates increase dramatically. We show that this phenomenon is consistent with a model in which women are more inequity-averse than men. Other findings include the following. In contrast to a number of tournament studies, we find a zero causal effect of the team environment on women's absolute and relative task performance. This is true both for the pure treatment effect of teams, i.e. when participants are randomly assigned to different pay schemes, and for the treatment-on-the-treated (ToT) effect of teams, i.e. the causal effect of team compensation for the subset of workers who self-select into teams when choice is voluntary. At the same time, consistent with simple payoff-maximizing behavior, we find strong and consistent evidence of adverse selection into teams: taking experimental conditions as given, abler participants of both genders tend to avoid teams, and participants who thought their partner was able tend to join teams. As a result, self-selected teams perform worse than randomly-assigned teams, and worse than subjects who choose to avoid teams. Also, since adverse selection is stronger among men, voluntarily-formed female teams outperform selfselected male teams. Notably, this is not because women respond better (or less adversely) to the team environment; it is purely a selection effect. Taken together, these findings may be useful information for the design of work environments that are attractive to workers of both genders. 3 The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 summarizes the related literature. Section 3 develops the experimental design and procedures. Sections 4 to 7 present the results. Section 8 discusses these results and concludes. Related Literature As we have noted, the literature on gender and methods of pay has been dominated by a comparison between piece rates --where compensation depends only on one's own performance--and tournaments, where an individual's reward depends negatively on her co-workers' performance. In a well known early study, Gneezy et al. (2003) found that women were less effective than men in competitive environments, despite the fact that their performance was similar to men's in a noncompetitive environment. This result has been confirmed for a variety of tasks and subject populations, including schoolchildren (Gneezy and Rustichini 2004). (2007) provide evidence that women "shy away" from competition in a task involving adding up sets of twodigit numbers. Men are much more likely to enter a payoff-equivalent tournament than women in their study, and the authors attribute this both to gender differences in overconfidence and tastes for competition. This result has also been replicated in a variety of contexts and populations, including children as young as three years old (Sutter and Rützler, 2010), but the effect varies with factors such as school type (Booth and Nolen, 2012a and b) and runners' ages (Garratt et al., 2013) , suggesting a possible role for culture. 2 Villeval (2012) provides a survey of this literature. Concerning selection into competitive environments, Niederle and Vesterlund Compared to the literature on gender and tournaments, the economics literature on gender and teams is relatively sparse. 3 Turning first to studies of gender and performance in teams, most existing work focuses on a different question from ours: Rather than comparing an individual's performance in a team versus a non-team environment, the typical approach is to take the team environment as given and ask how a team's gender mix affects its performance. Thus, for example, Ivanova-Stenzel and Kübler (2011) find that compared to a single-sex environment, 2 Additional evidence of cultural influences is provided by Gneezy et al. (2009) who show that this gender difference is reversed in experiments performed in a matrilineal society. Also, no gender difference in competitiveness between boys and girls is found in Sweden (Dreber et al., 2012) nor in Columbia (Cardenas et al., 2013). 3 While there is a large literature in psychology and management science on gender and team performance, most of it is based on observational studies of behavior in existing teams (not self-selection into teams), and teams are rarely incentivized (see Graves and Powell, 2007, for a review). Note: Sample sizes are 44 women and 42 men in the B treatment and 43 women and 45 men in the EA treatment. Pvalues are from 2-sided t-tests for differences between means.
doi:10.3386/w19277 fatcat:t5qxz24ltfc3dde5wxf6hhgrs4