Gender and culture

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References

Nicolini, R., & Roig, J. L. (2017). Gender and culture: do they matter for norms? Applied Economics Letters, 24(19), 1423–1427. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504851.2017.1343436

<!–Additional Information: Persistent link to this record (Permalink): http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsh&AN=124538739&site=eds-live&scope=site End of citation–>Gender and culture: do they matter for norms?

In a natural experiment, we observed that the influence of a norm depended upon the gender and cultural background of participants. Both gender and cultural background contributed to the effect of peer pressure that partly controlled against the act of cheating among participants as they completed a group task. Furthermore, both factors served to describe the characteristics of hardworking individuals in the group. We therefore conclude that the effectiveness of a norm in a group is expected to depend upon the presence of hardworking individuals therein.

Keywords: Culture; gender; norm; peer effects

1. Introduction

The purpose of our research was to perform an exploratory analysis of the ways in which the gender and cultural background of individuals shape their reactions to a norm of cooperation as they attempt to accomplish a task as a group. In a previous contribution in this field, La Porta et al. ([12]) have posited that cooperation among individuals in a group depends upon trust whose importance is inversely proportional to how often individuals meet or interact. By extension, we sought to determine the degree to which gender and cultural background influence the behaviour of individuals – above all, in terms of their cooperation – as they interact as members of a group.

We conducted a natural experiment in which several classes of students completed a group project for an undergraduate elective course in different academic years.[ 1] The framework of our experiment was simple: each group of students needed to prepare a report that they would later present as a group to the class, and the quality of both the report and the student’s individual presentation would factor into the student’s final grade for the course. To control for free-rider problems in the cooperation among group members, we introduced a norm:[ 2] each group needed to produce a joint declaration in which each group member made an assessment of his or her contribution to the work of the project. As such, each group member knew that his or her grade for the project would reflect the assessment in the declaration and that members who contributed more would receive higher grades than members who participated less. To endorse its binding effect, each group member signed the declaration.

We expected that the norm, via mutual peer monitoring, would create peer pressure. As Kandel and Lazear ([11]) have demonstrated, a norm is an effective means of ensuring equilibrium. When a norm is well structured, it can be more effective than some forms of punishment, including fines (Gneezy and Rustichini [ 9]; Acemoglu and Jackson, [ 1]). However, as Gneezy, Leonard, and List ([ 8]) have concluded, norms are effective only in the case of so-called ‘one-shot games’, whose participants have only one chance to succeed or fail which the authors mostly found in groups mixed in terms of gender as well as cultural background.

The ways in which individuals fulfil the requirements of norms are influenced by institutions, as well as their gender and cultural background and the gender and cultural backgrounds of others subject to the norm. For instance, Tirole ([14]) has shown that the lack of effective institutions limits coordination among individuals, which results in corruption and thus free riders.[ 3] La Porta et al. ([12]) have also posited that the lack of formal established institutions reduces trust among individuals. For example, institutions of hierarchical, strongly centralized civil, or religious organizations (e.g. those of Catholicism, Islam, and Orthodox religions) generate limited trust among individuals, which promotes different forms of corruption (e.g. free riding).[ 4] Along those lines, Alm and Torgler ([ 2]) reported that social norms (e.g. attitudes, values) differ across countries and affect individuals’ economic behaviour. Examining tax morale as a variable encompassing the degree of trust of citizens in their national institutions, they found that citizens in the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom, the United States have higher tax morale than those in Romanic ones (e.g. France, Italy, Portugal, Spain).

A related stream of literature discussing the interplay of culture, gender, and corruption has shown that the gender effect is similar across countries and periods. Interestingly, studies have demonstrated that women’s representation in economic and political institutions deters corruption and tax evasion (Swamy et al. [13]; Crason and Gneezy [ 7]; Tongler and Valev [15]; Bohnet [ 4]), and same occurs in institutions with mixed but balanced gender composition (Gokcekus and Mukherjee [10]; Bohnet [ 4]).

In response to both bodies of literature, we hypothesized that when the group declaration promised an equal division of teamwork among all group members,[ 5] the declaration would be fulfilled or hide possible freeriding behaviour in the group. A novel aspect of our experiment was the possibility of controlling for gender and culture jointly. Following Alm and Torgler ([ 2]), we controlled for both the gender and cultural composition of the groups. We differentiated native and international students, the latter being students enrolled in an academic exchange programme, who introduce various social values from their home cultures into the foreign culture. Our econometric exercise revealed an important trade-off between students’ culture and gender as determinants of the effect of the declaration. Again following La Porta et al. ([12]), as well as Alm and Torgler ([ 2]), we identified students from societies without strong cultural and hierarchical organizations as ones who, as models of hardworking students, would deter the potential for unfulfilled declarations.

2. Experiment, data, and results

We conducted our experiment in an undergraduate elective business course popular among both native and international students. Our data represented the 2012–2013 to 2015–2016 academic years and the experiences of more than 200 students, 54% of whom were incoming international students.

Our analysis involved organizing our sample into three subgroups: groups with native students only, groups with international students only, and groups with both native and international students (i.e. mixed-culture groups).

Table 1 lists relevant descriptive statistics of the participants. The three group types were fairly equally balanced in the composition of our sample, since each type accounted for a share of roughly 30%. The same held true for the gender composition of all participants, 58% of whom were women. The sample was also balanced in terms of the geographical origin of individuals; native students, and students from Southern European countries and France accounted for 56% of the sample.[ 6] Three quarters of participants belonged to groups whose members all declared an equal degree of participation in project tasks (i.e. equal split groups), whereas in the remaining quarter of groups, at least one member participated more in the tasks than his or her group mates. The latter percentage was more common in mixed-culture groups (85%), perhaps due to the heterogeneous cultural composition of groups or their gender composition (cf. Bohnet [ 4]). Heterogeneity could have imposed peer pressure upon each group member to exert his or her greatest effort towards accomplishing the tasks, since that effect is stronger when individuals do not know each other or do not interact often (La Porta et al., [12]; Bohnet [ 4]).

Table 1. Descriptive statistics.

 

All sample (Only) native groups Mixed groups (Only) Interchange students groups
Obs Mean SD Min Max Obs Mean SD Min Max Obs Mean SD Min Max Obs Mean SD Min Max
Group size (number of the members of the group) 215 3.77 1.13 2 6 66 4.06 1.16 2 6 77 4.32 1.0 2 6 72 2.91 0.64 2 4
Gender [1 if female; 0 if male] 214 0.58 0.49 0 1 66 0.56 0.50 0 1 76 0.62 0.49 0 1 72 0.57 0.49 0 1
Exchange students [1 if exchange student;0 otherwise] 215 0.54 0.50 0 1 77 0.57 0.49 0 1
Geographical origin students [1 if South European countries and France; 0 otherwise] 215 0.56 0.50 0 1 77 0.54 0.50 0 1 72 0.17 0.37 0 1
Equal split teamwork tasks [1 if the individual participation of all group members is equal to (100/”group size”); 0 otherwise] 197 0.75 0.43 0 1 66 0.76 0.43 0 1 59 0.81 0.39 0 1 72 0.70 0.45 0 1
Relative majority exchange students in the group (1 if the share of exchange students in a group is equal or more 0.5; 0 otherwise) 77 0.63 0.48 0 1

 

Our working hypothesis identified equal split group declarations as the most likely to hide freeriding behaviour, and we aimed to identify the determinants that derived from the presence of individuals from heterogeneous cultures. We took into account the gender, origin (i.e. native or foreigner), and cultural background (i.e. per Alm and Torgler, [ 2]) of participants in their respective groups and, also, introduced a proxy for individual attitude towards success in academic study (i.e. being a hardworking student or not). Although we did not dispose of any other information from students’ records, students in our course were also required to produce an individual essay whose content was a by-product of the knowledge of activities performed in the group report. Therefore, we constructed a dummy variable (i.e. individual control) to proxy for being a hard worker when the difference between the individual’s grade for the group project and grade for the individual essay was sizeable and positive.

With those data, we performed two econometric exercises. In one, we assessed the importance of gender and culture in the fulfilment of an equal split declaration (Table 2); in the other, we investigated the extent to which gender and culture affected the probability of being a hard worker. In both cases, we ran probit estimations and applied the White correction to control for heteroscedasticity. As related literature also found, gender was a key feature of the groups’ fulfilment of the declaration. Having a woman in the group reduced the likelihood of not fulfilling the declaration, hence fewer cases of corruption or freeriding (Table 2). Women were also more likely to be hard workers (Table 3) in each group type. In alignment with estimations of marginal effects in Table 2, the gender effect was far greater in the case of mixed-culture groups than in the overall sample (127% versus 17%, respectively). Such magnitude could have been exacerbated by peer pressure for, in mixed-culture groups, individuals were not as likely to interact as often as those in native-only groups. Furthermore, having a majority of international students in a group deterred the potential risk of corruption among group members (Table 2, column 1), while geographical origin (i.e. cultural background) reduced potential freeriding (Table 2, column 4). By contrast, individual control (i.e. the variable encompassing individual attitude) was not statistically significant in influencing the type of joint declaration, meaning that gender and heterogeneity of cultural background were two effective devices to deter the likelihood of not having equal split or potentially untrue declarations.

Table 2. Estimation results.Method: PROBITDependent variable: Equal Split of the teamwork tasksDummy variable: 1 if the individual participation of all group members is equal to (100/”group size”); 0 otherwise.

 

All sample Mixed groups (only) Exchange student groups (only)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Constant 0.02 (0.621) 0.28 (0.71) −2.23 (2.33) −4.81** (2.16) −0.03 (0.99)
Group size 0.04 (0.161) −0.04 (0.15) 1.05 (0.65) 1.48** (0.63) 0.31 (0.31)
Gender −0.58** (0.23) −0.53** (0.23) −6.20*** (1.15) −5.64*** (1.07) −0.34 (0.35)
Exchange students −0.88 (0.57)
Relative majority exchange students in the group −0.88** (0.40)
Geographical origin students 0.26 (0.34) 1.01* (0.58) 0.35 (0.53)
Group type 0.54** (0.26) 0.20 (0.20)
Individual control −0.15 (0.212) −0.15 (0.212) −0.21 (0.53) −0.17 (0.62) −0.14 (0.37)
Time dummies YES YES YES YES YES
Errors White correction White correction White correction White correction White correction
# Observations 194 194 41 41 70
Log Likelihood −97.98 −99.69 −16.98 −16.60 −38.94
Pseudo R2 0.078 0.062 0.287 0.304 0.049
Marginal effects
Gender −0.17** (0.06) −1.27** (0.31)
Relative majority exchange students in the group −0.25** (0.11)
Geographical origin students 0.23** (0.11)

 

3 Notes: SEs into brackets; level of significance: ***1%; **5%; *10%

Table 3. Robustness check: individual control.Method of estimation: PROBITDependent variable: Individual controlDummy variable 1 = if the difference between the individual grade of group report and the one of the individual report is sizable. 0 = otherwise.

 

All sample Mixed groups (only) Exchange student groups (only)
Constant −5.64*** (0.32) −5.85*** (0.45) 0.12 (0.30)
Gender −0.49** (0.20) −0.43** (0.42) −0.69** (0.34)
Exchange students 5.43*** (0.27) 6.06*** (0.39)
Geographical origin of exchange students 4.91** (0.22) 5.11*** (0.31) −0.14 (0.49)
Interaction term: exchange students x Geographical origin of exchange students −5.45*** (0.39) −6.27*** (0.57)
Time dummies YES YES YES
Errors White correction White correction White correction
# Observations 212 76 70
Log Likelihood −129.38 −43.65 −40.58
Pseudo R2 0.12 0.16 0.13

 

4 Note: SEs into brackets; Level of significance ***1%; **5%; *10%

As Table 3 shows, our estimations allowed us to conclude that woman are more likely to be hard workers regardless of their group type, while students from France and Southern European countries – that is, ones with lower tax morale in Alm and Torgler ([ 2]) – were more likely to not be hard workers. Furthermore, the interaction term between international students and their geographical origin revealed a sort of substitution effect between the features; not all international students were identical in terms of their commitment versus their actual accomplishment of the project tasks. Thus, the proper combination of gender and geographical origin that more likely meant the student’s being a hard worker also served to suggest a greater likelihood of not experiencing freeriding in the accomplishment of tasks.

3. Conclusions

We have provided evidence of the importance of the gender and culture of group members in shaping the behaviour of other members in fulfilling a declaration (i.e. norm) regarding each member’s degree of participation in a group project. However, our study posed some limitations that further research should consider. First, we did not use additional information about students’ educational background or attitudes, which prevented us from identifying them more precisely. Second, we did not use evidence sufficient to enable us to disentangle potential cases of freeriding in equal split group declarations. To control for those cases, researchers could complement those declarations with individual surveys or access more material to be able to disentangle that potential threat. Third, our somewhat small sample could be expanded in order to create an unbalanced panel data and control precisely for country-origin fixed effects and thus better qualify conclusions. At the same time, it would be valuable to explore the extent that the heterogeneity of culture and consequent peer pressure might incentivize increased individual productivity and improve grades on the project assessments.

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Mark Taylor and two anonymous reviewers as well as participants to SAE 2016 (Bilbao) for useful suggestions. We are also indebted to all the participants of this experiment for seriously engaging in the requested task. Any errors are our own responsibility. Financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and FEDER (EU) projects ECO2014-52506R and ECO2014-52999-R, and from Generalitat de Catalunya projects 2014SGR327 and 2014SGR1326, XREA and XREPP is gratefully acknowledged.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

References1 Acemouglu, D., and M. Jackson. 2017. “Social Norms and the Enforcement of the Law.” Journal of the European Economic Association 15 (2): 245–295.

2 Alm, J., and B. Torgler. 2006. “Culture Differences and Tax Morale in the US and in Europe.” Journal of Economic Psychology 27: 224–246. doi:10.1016/j.joep.2005.09.002.

3 Barr, A., and D. Serra. 2010. “Corruption and Culture: An Experimental Analysis.” Journal of Public Economics 94: 862–869. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2010.07.006.

4 Bohnet, I. 2016. What Works. Gender Equality by Design. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press (Harvard University Press).

5 Bonuri, S., and C. Echel 2012: “Experiments in Culture and Corruption” Policy Research WP n. 6064, Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

6 Coleman, J. 1990. Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge, MA:Belknap Press (Harvard University Press).

7 Crason, R., and U. Gneezy. 2009. “Gender Differences in Preferences.” Journal of Economic Literature 47 (2): 448–474. doi:10.1257/jel.47.2.448.

8 Gneezy, U., K. L. Leonard, and J. A. List. 2009. “Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society.” Econometrica : Journal of the Econometric Society 77 (5): 1637–1664. doi:10.3982/ECTA6690.

9 Gneezy, U., and A. Rustichini. 2000. “A Fine Is a Price.” Journal of Legal Studies 29: 1–17. doi:10.1086/468061.

Gokcekus, O., and R. Mukherjee 2004. “Gender and Corruption in the Public Sector” Global Corruption Report 2004. http://works.bepress.com/omer%5fgokcekus/35/

Kandel, E., and E. Lazear. 1992. “Peer Pressure and Partnership.” Journal of Political Economy 100 (4): 801–817. doi:10.1086/261840.

La Porta, R., F. Lopez-de-Silanes, A. Shleifer, and R. W. Vishny. 1997. “Trust in Large Organizations.” American Economic Review Vol.87 (2): 333–338.

Swamy, A., S. Knack, Y. Lee, and O. Azfar. 2001. “Gender and Corruption.” Journal of Developing Economics 64: 25–55. doi:10.1016/S0304-3878(00)00123-1.

Tirole, J. 1996. “A Theory of Collective Reputations, with Applications to the Persistence of Corruption and to Firm Quality.” Review of Economic Studies 63: 1–22. doi:10.2307/2298112.

Tongler, B., and N. Valev. 2010. “Gender and Public Attitudes Towards Corruption and Tax Evasion.” Contemporary Economic Policy 28 (4): 554–568. doi:10.1111/j.1465-7287.2009.00188.x.

Treisman, D. 2000. “The Causes of Corruption: A Cross-National Study.” Journal of Public Economics 76: 399–457. doi:10.1016/S0047-2727(99)00092-4.

FootnotesBonouri and Echel ([5]) have argued that experiments rank among the most suitable ways of disentangling the relationship of cultural attributes and individual behaviour. More recently, Bohnet ([4]) has made the same argument in relation to evaluating the impact of gender.

We cite Coleman’s view ([6]), which holds that a norm is an action subject to the authority of others, meaning that control of the action is not exercised by one individual, but by all individuals involved in the action.

In complement, Barr and Serra ([3]) have concluded that individuals whose culture involves corruption carry their attitudes about corruption across borders.

Instead, countries with a higher percentage of Protestants exhibit lower levels of corruption (Treisman [16]).

That is, all members of the group contributed the same percentage of work to the project.

Other nationalities most represented in the sample were German (13.55%), Polish (4.67%), Portuguese (4.40%), Danish (3.74%), Italian (2.34%), and French (1.87).

~~~~~~~~

By Rosella Nicolini and José Luis Roig

Reported by Author; Author

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Gender and culture: do they matter for norms? Rosella Nicolini and José Luis Roig

Departament d’Economia Aplicada, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain, Barcelona, Spain

ABSTRACT In a natural experiment, we observed that the influence of a norm depended upon the gender and cultural background of participants. Both gender and cultural background con- tributed to the effect of peer pressure that partly controlled against the act of cheating among participants as they completed a group task. Furthermore, both factors served to describe the characteristics of hardworking individuals in the group. We therefore conclude that the effectiveness of a norm in a group is expected to depend upon the presence of hardworking individuals therein.

ARTICLE HISTORY Received 10 June 2016 Accepted 13 June 2017

KEYWORDS Culture; gender; norm; peer effects

JEL CLASSIFICATION C25; D70; Z10

1. Introduction

The purpose of our research was to perform an explora- tory analysis of the ways in which the gender and cultural background of individuals shape their reactions to a norm of cooperation as they attempt to accomplish a task as a group. In a previous contribution in this field, La Porta et al. (1997) have posited that cooperation among individuals in a group depends upon trust whose importance is inversely proportional to how often individuals meet or interact. By extension, we sought to determine the degree to which gender and cultural background influence the behaviour of indivi- duals – above all, in terms of their cooperation – as they interact as members of a group.

We conducted a natural experiment in which sev- eral classes of students completed a group project for an undergraduate elective course in different aca- demic years.1 The framework of our experiment was simple: each group of students needed to prepare a report that they would later present as a group to the class, and the quality of both the report and the student’s individual presentation would factor into the student’s final grade for the course. To control for free-rider problems in the cooperation among group members, we introduced a norm:2 each group needed to produce a joint declaration in which each group member made an assessment of his or her

contribution to the work of the project. As such, each group member knew that his or her grade for the project would reflect the assessment in the declaration and that members who contributed more would receive higher grades than members who participated less. To endorse its binding effect, each group member signed the declaration.

We expected that the norm, via mutual peer monitoring, would create peer pressure. As Kandel and Lazear (1992) have demonstrated, a norm is an effective means of ensuring equilibrium. When a norm is well structured, it can be more effective than some forms of punishment, including fines (Gneezy and Rustichini 2000; Acemoglu and Jackson, 2017). However, as Gneezy, Leonard, and List (2009) have concluded, norms are effective only in the case of so-called ‘one-shot games’, whose participants have only one chance to succeed or fail which the authors mostly found in groups mixed in terms of gender as well as cultural background.

The ways in which individuals fulfil the require- ments of norms are influenced by institutions, as well as their gender and cultural background and the gender and cultural backgrounds of others sub- ject to the norm. For instance, Tirole (1996) has shown that the lack of effective institutions limits coordination among individuals, which results in

CONTACT Rosella Nicolini rosella.nicolini@uab.cat 1Bonouri and Echel (2012) have argued that experiments rank among the most suitable ways of disentangling the relationship of cultural attributes and individual behaviour. More recently, Bohnet (2016) has made the same argument in relation to evaluating the impact of gender.

2We cite Coleman’s view (1990), which holds that a norm is an action subject to the authority of others, meaning that control of the action is not exercised by one individual, but by all individuals involved in the action.

APPLIED ECONOMICS LETTERS, 2017 VOL. 24, NO. 19, 1423–1427 https://doi.org/10.1080/13504851.2017.1343436

© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

 

 

corruption and thus free riders.3 La Porta et al. (1997) have also posited that the lack of formal established institutions reduces trust among indivi- duals. For example, institutions of hierarchical, strongly centralized civil, or religious organizations (e.g. those of Catholicism, Islam, and Orthodox reli- gions) generate limited trust among individuals, which promotes different forms of corruption (e.g. free riding).4 Along those lines, Alm and Torgler (2006) reported that social norms (e.g. attitudes, values) differ across countries and affect individuals’ economic behaviour. Examining tax morale as a variable encompassing the degree of trust of citizens in their national institutions, they found that citizens in the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom, the United States have higher tax morale than those in Romanic ones (e.g. France, Italy, Portugal, Spain).

A related stream of literature discussing the inter- play of culture, gender, and corruption has shown that the gender effect is similar across countries and periods. Interestingly, studies have demonstrated that women’s representation in economic and poli- tical institutions deters corruption and tax evasion (Swamy et al. 2001; Crason and Gneezy 2009; Tongler and Valev 2010; Bohnet 2016), and same occurs in institutions with mixed but balanced gen- der composition (Gokcekus and Mukherjee 2004; Bohnet 2016).

In response to both bodies of literature, we hypothesized that when the group declaration pro- mised an equal division of teamwork among all group members,5 the declaration would be fulfilled or hide possible freeriding behaviour in the group. A novel aspect of our experiment was the possibility of controlling for gender and culture jointly. Following Alm and Torgler (2006), we controlled for both the gender and cultural composition of the groups. We differentiated native and international students, the latter being students enrolled in an academic exchange programme, who introduce various social values from their home cultures into the foreign culture. Our econometric exercise revealed an important trade-off between students’ culture and

gender as determinants of the effect of the declara- tion. Again following La Porta et al. (1997), as well as Alm and Torgler (2006), we identified students from societies without strong cultural and hierarch- ical organizations as ones who, as models of hard- working students, would deter the potential for unfulfilled declarations.

2. Experiment, data, and results

We conducted our experiment in an undergraduate elective business course popular among both native and international students. Our data represented the 2012–2013 to 2015–2016 academic years and the experiences of more than 200 students, 54% of whom were incoming international students.

Our analysis involved organizing our sample into three subgroups: groups with native students only, groups with international students only, and groups with both native and international students (i.e. mixed-culture groups).

Table 1 lists relevant descriptive statistics of the participants. The three group types were fairly equally balanced in the composition of our sample, since each type accounted for a share of roughly 30%. The same held true for the gender composition of all partici- pants, 58% of whom were women. The sample was also balanced in terms of the geographical origin of individuals; native students, and students from Southern European countries and France accounted for 56% of the sample.6 Three quarters of participants belonged to groups whose members all declared an equal degree of participation in project tasks (i.e. equal split groups), whereas in the remaining quarter of groups, at least one member participated more in the tasks than his or her group mates. The latter percentage was more common in mixed-culture groups (85%), perhaps due to the heterogeneous cul- tural composition of groups or their gender composi- tion (cf. Bohnet 2016). Heterogeneity could have imposed peer pressure upon each group member to exert his or her greatest effort towards accomplishing the tasks, since that effect is stronger when individuals

3In complement, Barr and Serra (2010) have concluded that individuals whose culture involves corruption carry their attitudes about corruption across borders.

4Instead, countries with a higher percentage of Protestants exhibit lower levels of corruption (Treisman 2000). 5That is, all members of the group contributed the same percentage of work to the project. 6Other nationalities most represented in the sample were German (13.55%), Polish (4.67%), Portuguese (4.40%), Danish (3.74%), Italian (2.34%), and French (1.87).

1424 R. NICOLINI AND J.L. ROIG

 

 

do not know each other or do not interact often (La Porta et al., 1997; Bohnet 2016).

Our working hypothesis identified equal split group declarations as the most likely to hide free- riding behaviour, and we aimed to identify the determinants that derived from the presence of individuals from heterogeneous cultures. We took into account the gender, origin (i.e. native or for- eigner), and cultural background (i.e. per Alm and Torgler, 2006) of participants in their respective groups and, also, introduced a proxy for individual attitude towards success in academic study (i.e. being a hardworking student or not). Although we did not dispose of any other information from students’ records, students in our course were also required to produce an individual essay whose con- tent was a by-product of the knowledge of activities performed in the group report. Therefore, we con- structed a dummy variable (i.e. individual control) to proxy for being a hard worker when the differ- ence between the individual’s grade for the group project and grade for the individual essay was size- able and positive.

With those data, we performed two econometric exercises. In one, we assessed the importance of gen- der and culture in the fulfilment of an equal split declaration (Table 2); in the other, we investigated the extent to which gender and culture affected the probability of being a hard worker. In both cases, we ran probit estimations and applied the White correc- tion to control for heteroscedasticity. As related

literature also found, gender was a key feature of the groups’ fulfilment of the declaration. Having a woman in the group reduced the likelihood of not fulfilling the declaration, hence fewer cases of corruption or free- riding (Table 2). Women were also more likely to be hard workers (Table 3) in each group type. In align- ment with estimations of marginal effects in Table 2, the gender effect was far greater in the case of mixed- culture groups than in the overall sample (127% versus 17%, respectively). Such magnitude could have been exacerbated by peer pressure for, in mixed-culture groups, individuals were not as likely to interact as often as those in native-only groups. Furthermore, having a majority of international students in a group deterred the potential risk of corruption among group members (Table 2, column 1), while geographical origin (i.e. cultural background) reduced potential freeriding (Table 2, column 4). By contrast, individual control (i.e. the variable encompassing indi- vidual attitude) was not statistically significant in influencing the type of joint declaration, meaning that gender and heterogeneity of cultural background were two effective devices to deter the likelihood of not having equal split or potentially untrue declarations.

As Table 3 shows, our estimations allowed us to conclude that woman are more likely to be hard work- ers regardless of their group type, while students from France and Southern European countries – that is, ones with lower tax morale in Alm and Torgler (2006) – were more likely to not be hard workers.

Table 1. Descriptive statistics.

All sample (Only) native groups Mixed groups (Only) Interchange students groups

Obs Mean SD Min Max Obs Mean SD Min Max Obs Mean SD Min Max Obs Mean SD Min Max

Group size (number of the members of the group)

215 3.77 1.13 2 6 66 4.06 1.16 2 6 77 4.32 1.0 2 6 72 2.91 0.64 2 4

Gender [1 if female; 0 if male] 214 0.58 0.49 0 1 66 0.56 0.50 0 1 76 0.62 0.49 0 1 72 0.57 0.49 0 1 Exchange students [1 if exchange student; 0 otherwise]

215 0.54 0.50 0 1 77 0.57 0.49 0 1

Geographical origin students [1 if South European countries and France; 0 otherwise]

215 0.56 0.50 0 1 77 0.54 0.50 0 1 72 0.17 0.37 0 1

Equal split teamwork tasks [1 if the individual participation of all groupmembers is equal to (100/“group size”); 0 otherwise]

197 0.75 0.43 0 1 66 0.76 0.43 0 1 59 0.81 0.39 0 1 72 0.70 0.45 0 1

Relative majority exchange students in the group (1 if the share of exchange students in a group is equal or more 0.5; 0 otherwise)

77 0.63 0.48 0 1

APPLIED ECONOMICS LETTERS 1425

 

 

Furthermore, the interaction term between interna- tional students and their geographical origin revealed a sort of substitution effect between the features; not all international students were identical in terms of their commitment versus their actual accomplishment of

the project tasks. Thus, the proper combination of gender and geographical origin that more likely meant the student’s being a hard worker also served to suggest a greater likelihood of not experiencing freeriding in the accomplishment of tasks.

Table 2. Estimation results. Method: PROBIT Dependent variable: Equal Split of the teamwork tasks Dummy variable: 1 if the individual participation of all group members is equal to (100/“group size”); 0 otherwise.

All sample Mixed groups (only) Exchange student groups (only)

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Constant 0.02 (0.621)

0.28 (0.71)

−2.23 (2.33)

−4.81** (2.16)

−0.03 (0.99)

Group size 0.04 (0.161)

−0.04 (0.15)

1.05 (0.65)

1.48** (0.63)

0.31 (0.31)

Gender −0.58** (0.23)

−0.53** (0.23)

−6.20*** (1.15)

−5.64*** (1.07)

−0.34 (0.35)

Exchange students −0.88 (0.57)

Relative majority exchange students in the group

−0.88** (0.40)

Geographical origin students 0.26 (0.34)

1.01* (0.58)

0.35 (0.53)

Group type 0.54** (0.26)

0.20 (0.20)

Individual control −0.15 (0.212)

−0.15 (0.212)

−0.21 (0.53)

−0.17 (0.62)

−0.14 (0.37)

Time dummies YES YES YES YES YES Errors White correction White correction White correction White correction White correction # Observations 194 194 41 41 70 Log Likelihood −97.98 −99.69 −16.98 −16.60 −38.94 Pseudo R2 0.078 0.062 0.287 0.304 0.049 Marginal effects Gender −0.17**

(0.06) −1.27** (0.31)

Relative majority exchange students in the group

−0.25** (0.11)

Geographical origin students 0.23** (0.11)

Notes: SEs into brackets; level of significance: ***1%; **5%; *10%

Table 3. Robustness check: individual control. Method of estimation: PROBIT Dependent variable: Individual control Dummy variable 1 = if the difference between the individual grade of group report and the one of the individual report is sizable. 0 = otherwise.

All sample Mixed groups (only) Exchange student groups (only)

Constant −5.64*** (0.32)

−5.85*** (0.45)

0.12 (0.30)

Gender −0.49** (0.20)

−0.43** (0.42)

−0.69** (0.34)

Exchange students 5.43*** (0.27)

6.06*** (0.39)

Geographical origin of exchange students 4.91** (0.22)

5.11*** (0.31)

−0.14 (0.49)

Interaction term: exchange students x Geographical origin of exchange students

−5.45*** (0.39)

−6.27*** (0.57)

Time dummies YES YES YES Errors White correction White correction White correction # Observations 212 76 70 Log Likelihood −129.38 −43.65 −40.58 Pseudo R2 0.12 0.16 0.13

Note: SEs into brackets; Level of significance ***1%; **5%; *10%

1426 R. NICOLINI AND J.L. ROIG

 

 

3. Conclusions

We have provided evidence of the importance of the gender and culture of group members in shaping the behaviour of other members in fulfilling a declaration (i.e. norm) regarding each member’s degree of partici- pation in a group project. However, our study posed some limitations that further research should consider. First, we did not use additional information about students’ educational background or attitudes, which prevented us from identifying them more precisely. Second, we did not use evidence sufficient to enable us to disentangle potential cases of freeriding in equal split group declarations. To control for those cases, researchers could complement those declarations with individual surveys or access more material to be able to disentangle that potential threat. Third, our somewhat small sample could be expanded in order to create an unbalanced panel data and control pre- cisely for country-origin fixed effects and thus better qualify conclusions. At the same time, it would be valuable to explore the extent that the heterogeneity of culture and consequent peer pressure might incen- tivize increased individual productivity and improve grades on the project assessments.

Acknowledgements

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