The Impact of Team Incentives on Performance in Graduate School: Evidence from Two Pilot RCTs

Last registered on August 05, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Impact of Team Incentives on Performance in Graduate School: Evidence from Two Pilot RCTs
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009477
Initial registration date
May 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
May 23, 2022, 7:21 PM EDT

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

Last updated
August 05, 2022, 5:20 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2021-08-30
End date
2021-12-21
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
In organizations, teams are ubiquitous. “Weakest Link” and “Best Shot” are incentive schemes that tie a group member’s compensation to the output of their group’s least and most productive member, respectively. In this paper, we test the impact of these incentive schemes by conducting two pilot RCTs (one in-person, one online), which included more than 250 graduate students in a graduate math class. Students were placed in study groups of three or four students, and then groups were randomized to either control, Weakest Link, or Best Shot incentives. We find evidence that such incentive approaches can affect test scores, both in-person and online.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
List, John and Rohen Shah. 2022. "The Impact of Team Incentives on Performance in Graduate School: Evidence from Two Pilot RCTs." AEA RCT Registry. August 05. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9477
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Students are first placed into groups of three or four students. Then, treatment students are given a financial incentive based on the group's lowest and highest performers respectively.
Intervention Start Date
2021-08-30
Intervention End Date
2021-12-21

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Group Minimum Test Score
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The minimum test score (out of 100) among the three or four students in the group.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Group standard deviation
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
The standard deviation of the test score of the group

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This is an experiment with graduate students in a math refresher summer course. Students are first placed into groups of three or four students. Control students are not given any financial incentives. There are two treatment conditions; treatment students are given a financial incentive based on the group's lowest and highest performers respectively.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Student Group
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
72
Sample size: planned number of observations
259
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
24 clusters per treatment arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Chicago - Social and Behavioral Sciences IRB
IRB Approval Date
2021-05-04
IRB Approval Number
IRB21-0580

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
December 21, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
December 21, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
72
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
259
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
24 clusters per treatment arm (86, 87, and 88 observations in each treatment arm respectively).
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials