Competition and Social Identity in the Workplace: Evidence from a Chinese Textile Firm

38 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2013 Last revised: 5 Sep 2014

See all articles by Takao Kato

Takao Kato

Colgate University - Economics Department; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Pian Shu

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech

Date Written: September 5, 2014

Abstract

We study the impact of social identity on worker competition by exploiting the exogenous variations in workers' origins and the well-documented social divide between urban resident workers and rural migrant workers in large urban Chinese firms. We analyze data on weekly output, individual characteristics, and coworker composition for all weavers in an urban Chinese textile firm between April 2003 and March 2004. The firm's relative performance incentive scheme rewards a worker for outperforming her coworkers. We find that a worker does not act on the monetary incentives to outperform coworkers who share the same social identity, but does aggressively compete against coworkers with a different social identity. Our results highlight the important role of social identity in overcoming self-interest and enhancing intergroup competitions.

Suggested Citation

Kato, Takao and Shu, Pian, Competition and Social Identity in the Workplace: Evidence from a Chinese Textile Firm (September 5, 2014). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 14-011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2303862 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2303862

Takao Kato

Colgate University - Economics Department ( email )

13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346
United States
315-228-7562 (Phone)
315-228-7033 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Pian Shu (Contact Author)

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

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