Working Papers

Heursen,L. (2018). Does Relative Performance Information Lower Group Morale? Updated April 2019. submitted

abstract In many organizations, productivity relies not just on individual effort but also on group morale, that is, the willingness of co-workers to help each other perform better at work. Relative performance evaluations (RPE) are known to increase individual work morale but may negatively affect group morale because they create a sense of competition among members of a reference group. In a novel experiment, I vary whether or not members of a reference group obtain relative performance information on a task that is relevant for their social image or self-image, a general knowledge test, and measure how this affects the subsequent willingness to help the productivity of others by sharing knowledge with them at a personal cost. I find that, compared to a baseline with no relative performance information and fixed piece-rates, RPE cause members of a reference group to compete as intensely as under relative pay and also increases the perceived social distance between them. Yet, I show that even after a performance competition, individuals are willing to help the productivity of others in the group. These findings advance our understanding of how relative concerns among co-workers affect the way they work together.
[pdf], [online Appendix]

Heursen,L., Ranehill E. and Weber, R. (2018). Are Women less Effective Leaders than Men?, Updated July 2019. in preparation for submission

abstract Despite increasing gender equality across many domains women remain underrepresented in leading positions. In two experiments, we study whether one reason for this gender gap may be that women are less effective in eliciting coordinated support from followers. Both experiments use coordination games, in which a leader must convince followers to select a particular equilibrium. Our first experiment employs a widely used paradigm to study leader effectiveness, the minimum-effort coordination game, while the second uses a novel game to more directly compare the strength of requests from male versus female followers. While we find, using survey questions, that our participants possess stereotypical associations between gender and leadership, we find no evidence that such bias impacts actual leadership performance. We show that this absence of an effect is surprising, relative to the priors of expert researchers.
[new draft coming soon]

Work In Progress

Work Requests and Manager Gender
Optimal Feedback
Angry Citizens and Extremism

[follow-up experiment to 2016 experimental study]