The unintended effect of group identity: an experimental investigation of benefit asymmetry and employees' cooperation
MetadataShow full item record
The primary purpose of this study is to investigate whether the effect of group identity on individuals' willingness to cooperate is moderated by benefit asymmetry (i.e., mutual cooperation may benefit some group members more than others). I conduct an experiment in which participants act as group members for a hypothetical company. Consistent with expectations, I find that a strong group identity promotes employees' cooperation rates, but only in situations in which benefits resulting from mutual cooperation are symmetric. When the benefits are asymmetric, employees' willingness to cooperate depends on whether they are disadvantaged or advantaged as well as the level of group identity. Specifically, the disadvantaged employees are less likely to cooperate when group identity is high. In contrast, the advantaged ones' willingness to cooperate is unaffected by the level of group identity. Results of my study suggest that, in situations of benefit asymmetry, inducing a high level of group identity may have unintended negative consequences on group performance as well as organizational productivity.