Charisma in the gig economy: a controlled field experiment on the impact of communication channels on performance

Last registered on November 10, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Charisma in the gig economy: a controlled field experiment on the impact of communication channels on performance
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008146
Initial registration date
August 25, 2021
Last updated
November 10, 2021, 5:52 AM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2021-08-26
End date
2021-11-10
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
The study investigates the impact of charismatic leadership communication tools on worker performance in the gig economy. Previous studies have demonstrated that the usage of charisma can increase follower’s performance in face to face settings (Antonakis et al 2021, Ernst et al. 2021). But we know relatively little about the impact of charismatic communication in virtual settings. Recently Ernst et al. 2021 have shown that charismatic communication does not have a significant impact on follower performance in a virtual setting when subjects watch a video and participate in an online experiment whereas Meslec et al. 2020 report a positive impact of charisma on performance if subjects watch a video but then work on-side. Fest et al. 2021 have shown that charismatic communication can have a positive impact when given as a written text in the gig economy. Thus, the evidence is sparse and calls for further studies. This project studies the impact of charismatic communication and communication channels in the gig economy in a controlled RCT.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Nieken, Petra. 2021. "Charisma in the gig economy: a controlled field experiment on the impact of communication channels on performance." AEA RCT Registry. November 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8146-1.1
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
The project consists of two studies
Study 1: Our intervention encompasses six treatments: In all treatments, subjects have to work for a fixed time period and fill out a brief survey afterwards. We vary the extent of charisma used in the instructions. We either employ neutral instructions or charismatic instructions. We also vary the communication channels.
Study 2: We execute 6 treatments where subjects are exposed to the instructions of one of the treatments of study 1 and then have to rate the leader. After the subjects rated the leader, they are exposed to the instructions of a different treatment and asked to predict the resulting performance difference.
Intervention Start Date
2021-08-26
Intervention End Date
2021-09-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Study 1: The main variable of interest is the output of the workers measured as the number of submitted work. We will compare this output across treatments. In addition, we are interested in the quality of the submitted work which we will also compare across treatments.
Study 2: The main variable of interest is the perception of charisma measured by a standard survey measure. We will compare this measure across treatments. We also compare the level of perceived charisma with the actual performance and predictions.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The project consists of two studies
Study 1: We vary the extent of charisma used in the instructions. We either employ neutral instructions or charismatic instructions. We also vary the communication channels.
Study 2: Subjects are exposed to the instructions of one of the treatments of study 1 and then have to rate the leader. After the subjects rated the leader, they are exposed to the instructions of a different treatment and asked to predict the resulting performance difference.
We run our experiment on Mturk. The HIT will be posted on Mturk and contain a short description of the task.
Experimental Design Details
We run our experiment on Mturk. The HIT will be posted on Mturk and contain a short description of the task. If subjects accept the HIT, they will get a link to the experiment which will be hosted on Qualtrics. Workers that are located in the U.S., have at least 500 Hits, and an approval rate of 98% are eligible to sign up. As workers are only allowed to participate once, we take measures to prevent multiple participation. We impose these restrictions to ensure a high data quality. To avoid confounding effects if subjects cheat and do not read the instructions properly, we use an attention check and also record the time subjects spend working on the study. In particular, we implement one attention check question in our brief survey (the question is: Paying attention to this survey is important. Please tick “a little.”). If a subject fails the attention check, the dataset will be excluded from the analysis. In addition, we will exclude subjects that speed through the instructions at an unreasonably short time.
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by using the randomization function build in Qualtrics.
Randomization Unit
Study 1: We will execute the treatments for each communication channel in different sessions but randomize within each session if subjects are exposed to neutral or charismatic instructions.
Study 2: We will randomize within session between all treatments.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1524 subjects
Sample size: planned number of observations
1524 subjects
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We plan to collect 200 observations for each treatment in study 1 and 50 for each treatment in study 2. One observation means one individual that participates in one of the above mentioned treatments. In addition, we need to execute an objective manipulation check with 24 subjects. The total number of observations thus amounts to: 1524 subjects
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Study 1: Our main variable of interest is the output delivered by subjects in study 1. Based in previous findings, we expect the effect size to be mild or moderate. Assuming a Cohens d of 0.3 and applying a power level of 0.8 and a significance level of 0.05, we would need 176 observations per treatment for study 1. For study 2, we expect a Cohens d of at least 0.5 to 0.6based in previous literature resulting in 64 to 45 subjects per treatment.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
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