Abstract

We investigate whether the gender composition of teams affect their economic performance. We study a large business game, played in groups of three, where each group takes the role of a general manager. There are two parallel competitions, one involving undergraduates and the other involving MBAs. Our analysis shows that teams formed by three women are significantly outperformed by any other gender combination, both at the undergraduate and MBA levels. Looking across the performance distribution, we find that for undergraduates, three women teams are outperformed throughout, but by as much as 10pp at the bottom and by only 1pp at the top. For MBAs, at the top, the best performing group is two men and one woman. The differences in performance are explained by differences in decision-making. We observe that three women teams are less aggressive in their pricing strategies, invest less in R&D, and invest more in social sustainability initiatives, than any other gender combination teams. Finally, we find support for the hypothesis that it is poor work dynamics among the three women teams that drives the results.
Published as: Relative Performance Compensation, Contests, and Dynamic Incentives in Management Science , Vol. 55, No. 8, 1306--1320, January, 2009