Addressing Free Riding Behavior in Youth Group Enterprises using tournament incentives: A group-based-experimental evidence in Ethiopia

Last registered on January 03, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Addressing Free Riding Behavior in Youth Group Enterprises using tournament incentives: A group-based-experimental evidence in Ethiopia
Initial registration date
December 22, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 03, 2023, 5:20 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)
PI Affiliation
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)
PI Affiliation
Development Economics Group, Wageningen University
PI Affiliation
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)
PI Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Center for Environment and Development, College of Development Studies, Addis Ababa University.

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Rural youth unemployment is one of the prime development challenges in Ethiopia. Increased participation of youth in agribusiness such as beekeeping could be the key to creating employment for the youth, alleviating poverty, and sustaining socio-political stability. It is common for government and development partners to organize youth in groups, provide common working areas and technical support and follow up so that they start viable income-generating enterprises. However, despite the efforts, the success and sustainability of group enterprises are low due to conflicts that emanate mainly from unequal effort contribution by the group members. Some group members do not contribute equal efforts to the group work because they share the product and income equally. To support successful group enterprise development, a search for cost-effective incentive mechanisms to encourage youth to contribute optimal effort in group enterprises is needed. In this experiment, we will evaluate alternative interventions that could address the free-riding problem the youth groups face. The interventions are organizing tournaments and nudging with letters. We will evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions using a cluster randomized controlled trials (RCT) design. The cluster RCT design will help us compare alternative cost-effective mechanisms for improving youth group effort and enterprise-level outcomes such as income and productivity. To run the RCT, we will leverage an existing program called More Young Entrepreneurs in Silk and Honey in Ethiopia. We will collect baseline, follow up and final data from 4 treatment arms: control, individual enterprise, tournament incentive, and nudging with text messages and letters. From each arm, an equal sample size of 475 enterprises will be selected randomly and interviewed on enterprise performance indicators such as production, productivity, apiary site management, time spent on the apiary site, bee colony size, and other covariates that include enterprise-level and member characteristics. The primary outcome variable is honey yield (kg/hive) and total income from honey production and related businesses and the secondary outcome variables are number of frame beehives with bee colonies, absconding rate, hours worked on the apiary sites, and youth dropout rate. The data will be analyzed using multiple linear regression for evaluating the impact of the treatments and other covariates on the primary and secondary outcome variables.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Abro, Zewdu et al. 2023. "Addressing Free Riding Behavior in Youth Group Enterprises using tournament incentives: A group-based-experimental evidence in Ethiopia." AEA RCT Registry. January 03.
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Experimental Details


In this study, we propose two interventions to address the free rider problem: The first one is running a tournament in which youth groups compete for a fixed prize. The second one is nudging group members to improve their efforts. Under the tournament incentive, we will test empirically in a field setting the incentive effects of the tournament on free-riding behavior typical in producing common goods. The tournament theory by Edward & Sherwin, (1981) postulates that workers can be rewarded based on their rank in an organization, explaining why large salaries are paid to senior executives. This is done to provide a prize or reward to workers who put in enough effort to earn a top position. The theory has been applied to professional sports. Becker & Huselid, (1992) illustrate tournament prizes’ effect on auto racing and found positive incentive effects on individual driver performance. In our case, we assign youth groups to so-called “leagues” of multiple groups. For every league, we organize a tournament where the top performer earns a prize. The best-performing group will receive material incentives (additional modern beehives). The probability of winning the prize is increasing in own effort and decreasing in the effort of other groups. This introduces the negative externality on those group members who tend to exert less than optimal effort in group work that we need to offset through tournament incentives.

The other intervention proposed to reduce free riding is nudging in which we nudge youth enterprises by sending formal letters. We will send formal letters with contents that remind youth about activities they may need to do during the different honey production seasons. We will follow the beekeeping calendar in respective areas. The letter will include information about honey production management practices such as colony transfer, feeding during the dearth period, beehive inspection, and honey harvesting. We will also remind the youths of beekeeping product prices and demands in the domestic market.
To address these two interventions we will set up a cluster-based Randomized Control Trial (RCT) to measure how tournament-based incentives and nudging improve group members’ effort supply and influence their honey yield, income, and bee colony maintenance performances.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcome variables of interest are two. They are:
1. honey yield in kg per hive per harvest and
2. total income from honey and beeswax production and related businesses.

Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Honey yield is measured in kg/hive/harvest. We will collect the amount of honey produced from each type of hive in the season and divide the honey produced from each type of hive by the number of hives from which honey is harvested in that season. The honey yield will be calculated for each type of hive (frame hive, traditional and transitional). This will be collected through a youth enterprise survey using a structured questionnaire.
2. Total income from honey, beeswax, and related business in ETB: We will convert the total honey and beeswax harvested using the average local honey price. This will be added together with aggregate income from integrated businesses (crop or vegetable production, animal fattening, seedlings sale, animal forage sale, etc. The data will be collected using a youth enterprise survey through a structured questionnaire

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
The secondary outcome variables are four. They are:
1. the number of frame beehives with bee colonies during the survey and,
2. bee colony absconding rate (%),
3. youth dropout rate (%) and
4. Hours worked on the apiary sites by the youth.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Number of frame beehives with bee colonies: We will count the number of frame hives with bee colonies through observation of the beehives.
2. Absconding rate (Percent): to measure this variable (1) We will ask the youth group members the total number of bee colonies acquired through project support, own contribution, colony splitting, or swarm catching during the reference period. (2) We will count the number of beehives with bee colonies. Then we will divide the difference between (1) and (2) with (1) and get the absconding rate. The data will be collected using an enterprise survey questionnaire and observation of the beehives for the availability of bees during the survey.
3. Youth dropout rate (Percent): To measure this variable we will (1). Record total group members at the beginning of the period, (2). Ask (record) the number of current members during the survey (3). Divide the difference between (1) and (2) by (1) to get the dropout rate. If a group member is replaced by other, it will be counted as a dropout. The data will be collected using an enterprise survey questionnaire.
4. Hours worked on the apiary sites (Number ): Group effort will be measured by accounting for the total number of hours spent by each group member on apiary site management activities during the year. Hours spent on apiary site management will be collected for both the harvest season and the off-season. Hours spent on related activities (side business) will also be counted. The data will be collected using a structured questionnaire.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will use a village-level cluster randomized assignment procedure that has three treatments and a control group described below. We will consider 95 villages (about 24 villages per treatment arm) and 20 youth group/individual enterprises per village. The sample size is determined using power analysis using honey yield data collected in the earlier phase of the program.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done in the office using a computer.
Randomization Unit
Youth Enterprise level randomization
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
95 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
1900 enterprises (475 in each of the four treatment arms).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
475 enterprises control, 475 enterprises individual groups, 475 tournament incentive, and 475 nudging incentive
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The minimum Detectable Effect is 25%, Mean is µ= 6.176555 and Standard deviation δ= 4.47803

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Research Ethics Review Committee of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe).
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number