How Uncertainty and Ambiguity in Tournaments Affect Gender Differences in Competitive Behavior

28 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2017

See all articles by Loukas Balafoutas

Loukas Balafoutas

University of Innsbruck

Brent Davis

Florida State University - Department of Economics

Matthias Sutter

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Cologne - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 12, 2017

Abstract

Tournament incentives prevail in labor markets, in particular with respect to promotions. Yet, it is often unclear to competitors how many winners there will be or how many applicants compete in the tournament. While it is hard to measure how this uncertainty affects work performance and willingness to compete in the field, it can be studied in a controlled lab experiment. We present a novel experiment where subjects can compete against each other, but where the number of winners is either uncertain (i.e., unknown numbers of winners, but known probabilities) or ambiguous (unknown probabilities for different numbers of winners). We compare these two conditions with a control treatment with a known number of winners. We find that ambiguity induces a significant increase in performance of men, while we observe no change for women. Both men and women increase their willingness to enter competition with uncertainty and ambiguity, but men react slightly more than women. Overall, both effects contribute to men winning the tournament significantly more often than women under uncertainty and ambiguity. Hence, previous experiments on gender differences in competition may have measured a lower bound of differences between men and women.

Keywords: Gender, competition, uncertainty, ambiguity, experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D03, D09

Suggested Citation

Balafoutas, Loukas and Davis, Brent and Sutter, Matthias, How Uncertainty and Ambiguity in Tournaments Affect Gender Differences in Competitive Behavior (September 12, 2017). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2017/18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3036428 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3036428

Loukas Balafoutas

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universit├Ątsstra├če 15
Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020
Austria

Brent Davis

Florida State University - Department of Economics ( email )

Tallahassee, FL 30306-2180
United States

Matthias Sutter (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

University of Cologne - Department of Economics

Cologne, 50923
Germany

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