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The Signals We Give: Gender, Feedback, and Competition
Last registered on August 23, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Signals We Give: Gender, Feedback, and Competition
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005543
Initial registration date
March 09, 2020
Last updated
August 23, 2020 10:25 AM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Nova School of Business and Economics
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Portsmouth
PI Affiliation
University of East Anglia
Additional Trial Information
Status
Withdrawn
Start date
2020-03-06
End date
2020-08-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Women are underrepresented in leadership positions across many contexts in both private and public spheres. The proposed research programme aims to study one of the potential barriers to gender equality by examining the biases that managers hold when providing feedback to their employees. Biases in feedback communication can be detrimental to employees’ self-confidence, which may in turn reduce their willingness to compete for promotions or roles with better career prospects. Hence, understanding these biases and their impact on behaviour is an important first step to breaking down the barriers inhibiting women from taking up leadership roles. Using a controlled lab experiment, we will examine whether managers provide feedback differently to employees based on their gender. Our experimental design will allow us to examine the relationship between feedback provision and managers’ own incentives, and the impact that biased performance feedback may have on employees’ behaviour and outcomes.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Coutts, Alexander, Boon Han Koh and Zahra Murad. 2020. "The Signals We Give: Gender, Feedback, and Competition." AEA RCT Registry. August 23. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5543-2.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-03-06
Intervention End Date
2020-08-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
For managers:

Beliefs about worker's rank (pre- and post-feedback).
Beliefs about worker's preference for piece-rate versus tournament.
Informativeness of feedback (exact reported rank, top/bottom half, no rank information) sent to worker.
Positivity of message sent to worker.


For workers:

Beliefs about own rank (pre- and post-feedback).
Preferences for piece-rate versus tournament.


Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
See detailed design below.
Experimental Design Details
The experimental design is conducted as follows. Stage 1: We elicit participants’ characteristics using a questionnaire. Participants are divided into groups of two. One participant is randomly assigned the role of “Manager” and the other is assigned the role of “Worker”. Workers and Managers are randomly matched and perform a text-based chat interaction, where characteristics of the worker are revealed (gender priming). Stage 2: Both Managers and Workers perform a task (adding sequences of 5 two-digit numbers) with piece-rate incentives. Stage 3: Workers perform a task (adding sequences of 5 two-digit numbers) with tournament incentives, ranked against 5 other workers. Workers enter their beliefs about their rank. Simultaneously, Managers enter beliefs about the rank of the Worker they are matched with. Stage 4: Workers choose to apply piece-rate or tournament incentives to past performance (in Stage 3) using a choice list with an ascending piece-rate payment and constant tournament payment. Simultaneously, Managers are asked to predict these choices of the Worker they are matched with. Stage 5: Managers are given performance feedback about the Worker's ranking, from 1 to 6. This is a noisy signal which is correct 2/3 of the time and incorrect 1/3 of the time. Managers enter updated beliefs about the Worker's rank. Next Managers decide what information to reveal to the worker (exact reported rank, top/bottom half, no rank information), followed by selection of one of six pre-determined messages. Managers report the expected piece-rate vs. tournament choices of the Worker after receiving this feedback. Once Workers receive this feedback, Workers enter their updated belief about their rank, followed by the selecting from piece-rate vs. tournament choices, which will be applied to past performance (Stage 3) but with matching to 5 other new workers.
Randomization Method
Randomized matching of managers to male versus female workers. This is done by z-tree to ensure balanced matching within each session.
Randomization Unit
There are no treatments.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
The data is not clustered.
Sample size: planned number of observations
240 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There are no treatments.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of East Anglia School of Economics Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2019-12-04
IRB Approval Number
0325
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS