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Leadership and Gender in Groups: An Experiment

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  • Philip J. Grossman
  • Mana Komai
  • James E. Jensen

Abstract

We conduct a laboratory experiment with salient incentives, a technique used by economists to study gender differences in leadership. We strip the concept of leadership down to its most basic elements. Questions of style and evaluations of a leader based on style of leadership adopted are made irrelevant. Our leader is an average player who is distinguished merely by occupying the leadership position; his/her legitimacy is derived from superior information about the value of the project in hand. Legitimacy is conferred on the leader from the special information possessed. Followers voluntarily choose whether or not to follow the better informed leader. The effectiveness of the leader is reduced to two simple factors: is the leader willing or not to voluntarily place herself in a vulnerable position to achieve an outcome beneficial to both the leader and her followers and do followers trust their leaders to make the right choice? We provide experimental evidence that, when the leaders’ gender is revealed to their followers in mixed groups, female leaders hesitate to lead (send a costly signal) while followers’ behavior does not indicate any gender discrimination. Such behavior is not observed among the male leaders.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip J. Grossman & Mana Komai & James E. Jensen, 2012. "Leadership and Gender in Groups: An Experiment," Monash Economics Working Papers 42-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2012-42
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    Cited by:

    1. Bryan C. McCannon, 2015. "Leadership and Motivation for Public Goods Contributions," Working Papers 15-24, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    2. Asiedu, Edward & Ibanez, Marcela, 2014. "The weaker sex? Gender differences in punishment across Matrilineal and Patriarchal Societies," Discussion Papers 165743, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    3. Philip J. Grossman & Catherine Eckel & Mana Komai & Wei Zhan, 2016. "It Pays to Be a Man: Rewards for Leaders in a Coordination Game," Monash Economics Working Papers 38-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    4. Mana Komai & Philip J. Grossman & Evelyne Benie, 2017. "Leadership and the effective choice of information regime," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 82(1), pages 117-129, January.
    5. Gangadharan, Lata & Jain, Tarun & Maitra, Pushkar & Vecci, Joseph, 2016. "Social identity and governance: The behavioral response to female leaders," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 302-325.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Leadership; Information; Gender; Free Riding; Coordination Problem.;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory

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