Cooperation or Competition? Social Identity and Incentives in Workgroups

58 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2020

See all articles by Jonathan Yeo

Jonathan Yeo

Nanyang Technological University

Date Written: June 12, 2020


In this paper, I conduct the first experiment exploring the interaction between identity and incentives. I construct workgroups which are either homogeneous or heterogeneous in members' identities and examine their productivity at a real-effort task under tournament pay and team pay. I find that in homogeneous workgroups, productivity is higher under team pay; in heterogeneous workgroups, productivity is however similar under both incentive schemes. Team pay induces greater helping of peers, especially in homogeneous workgroups. Tournament pay induces higher personal effort, especially in heterogeneous workgroups. I also find that incentives influence workers' identities and that females underperform under tournament pay.

Keywords: Social Identity, Incentives, Cooperation, Competition, Experiment

JEL Classification: D23, D90, J33, M52, M54

Suggested Citation

Yeo, Jonathan, Cooperation or Competition? Social Identity and Incentives in Workgroups (June 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Yeo (Contact Author)

Nanyang Technological University ( email )

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