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

Author

Listed:
  • Kato, Takao

    () (Colgate University)

  • Shu, Pian

    () (MIT)

Abstract

Using data on team assignment and weekly output for all weavers in an urban Chinese textile firm between April 2003 and March 2004, this paper studies a) how randomly assigned teammates affect an individual worker's behavior under a tournament-style incentive scheme, and b) how such effects interact with exogenously formed social networks in the manufacturing workplace. First, we find that a worker's performance improves when the average ability of her teammates increases. Second, we exploit the exogenous variations in workers' origins in the presence of the well-documented social divide between urban resident workers and rural migrant workers in large urban Chinese firms, and show that the coworker effects are only present if the teammates are of a different origin. In other words, workers do not act on pecuniary incentives to outperform teammates who are from the same social network. Our results point to the important role of group identities in overcoming self-interests and facilitating altruistic behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Kato, Takao & Shu, Pian, 2011. "Competition, Group Identity, and Social Networks in the Workplace: Evidence from a Chinese Textile Firm," IZA Discussion Papers 6219, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6219
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Derek C. Jones & Takao Kato, 2011. "The Impact of Teams on Output, Quality, and Downtime: An Empirical Analysis Using Individual Panel Data," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 64(2), pages 215-240, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Menzel, 2017. "Knowledge Exchange and Productivity Spill-overs in Bangladeshi Garment Factories," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp607, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    coworker effects in the workplace; social networks; intergroup competition;

    JEL classification:

    • M5 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior

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