Experimental Studies on Determinants of Effective Leadership

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Duration: September 2013 to August 2015
Project partner: Dr. Thomas Lauer, University of Cologne

Hierarchy and hierarchic structures are present in almost all social systems, in animals as well as in humans. Scholars from organizational social psychology, anthropology, as well as evolutionary biology identify hierarchy as a means to coordinate collective action. The effect of hierarchies in economic contexts, e.g., in a team production, characterized by the structure of a social dilemma, is not yet systematically investigated. In this research project, we investigate experimentally how a team leader may use different sources of influence to efficiently lead his teammates in order to and to accomplish the group goal. Controlled laboratory experiments allow quantifying the effects of various sources of influence as well as possible combined effects. In a coherent experimental design with several carefully planned treatments we focus on important determinants of efficient leadership: observation, positive and negative sanctioning, and the right to allocate the produced surplus. Beside this, we examine the behavior of the teammates which has rarely been investigated in the literature, especially how teammates accept and react to different influence sources used by the team leader. Thus, with respect to research on cooperative behavior, we contribute to a better understanding of the interaction between the team leader as a hierarchic entity and the teammates.

Project studies:

  • Self reports, Leadership and Team Performance, 2013 (in preparation for submission)
    Özgür Gürerk, Thomas Lauer, Mark Pigors
  • Leadership and Sanctions, 2014 (data analysis)
    Özgür Gürerk, Thomas Lauer, Martin Scheuermann


Kickoff-Workshop at the 03.12.2013