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Deciding to Decide: Gender, Leadership and Risk-Taking in Groups

  • Seda Ertac


    (Koc University)

  • Mehmet Y. Gurdal

    (TOBB ETU)

Being the leader in a group often involves making risky decisions that affect the payoffs of all members, and the decision to take this responsibility in a group is endogenous in many contexts. In this paper, we experimentally study: (1) the willingness of men and women to make risky decisions on behalf of a group, (2) the amount of risk men and women take for the group, in comparison to their individual decisions. We observe a striking difference between males and females, with a much lower fraction of women being willing to make the group decision than men. The amount of risk taken for the group is generally lower than in the case where subjects decide for themselves only, indicating a cautious shift. The women that would like to make the group decision and the women that do not are no different in terms of how much risk they take for themselves, nor for their group. For men, on the other hand, we find that the ones who would like to lead tend to take more risk on behalf of the group. We also present several results on the relationship of risk-taking and leadership decisions with personality traits.

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Paper provided by Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum in its series Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers with number 1028.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:koc:wpaper:1028
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  1. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
  2. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
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  4. Matthias Sutter, 2009. "Individual Behavior and Group Membership: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2247-57, December.
  5. Masclet, David & Colombier, Nathalie & Denant-Boemont, Laurent & Lohéac, Youenn, 2009. "Group and individual risk preferences: A lottery-choice experiment with self-employed and salaried workers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 470-484, June.
  6. Robert S. Shupp & Arlington Williams, 2003. "Risk Preference Differentials of Small Groups and Individuals," Working Papers 200301, Ball State University, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2006.
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  8. Ronald J. Baker II & Susan K. Laury & Arlington W. Williams, 2008. "Comparing Small-Group and Individual Behavior in Lottery-Choice Experiments," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 367-382, October.
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  10. Gneezy, U. & Potters, J.J.M., 1996. "An experiment on risk taking and evaluation periods," Discussion Paper 1996-61, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  11. Davis, James H., 1992. "Some compelling intuitions about group consensus decisions, theoretical and empirical research, and interpersonal aggregation phenomena: Selected examples 1950-1990," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 3-38, June.
  12. Dinky Daruvala, 2007. "Gender, risk and stereotypes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 265-283, December.
  13. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  14. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 11474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Kristoffer Eriksen & Ola Kvaløy, 2010. "Do financial advisors exhibit myopic loss aversion?," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 159-170, June.
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