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The strength of weak leaders: an experiment on social influence and social learning in teams


Buechel, Berno; Klößner, Stefan; Lochmüller, Martin; Rauhut, Heiko (2019). The strength of weak leaders: an experiment on social influence and social learning in teams. Experimental Economics:1-35.

Abstract

We investigate how the selection process of a leader affects team performance with respect to social learning. We use a laboratory experiment in which an incentivized guessing task is repeated in a star network with the leader at the center. Leader selection is either based on competence, on self-confidence, or made at random. In our setting, teams with random leaders do not underperform. They even outperform teams with leaders selected on self-confidence. Hence, self-confidence can be a dangerous proxy for competence of a leader. We show that it is the declaration of the selection procedure which makes non-random leaders overly influential. To investigate the opinion dynamics, we set up a horse race between several rational and naïve models of social learning. The prevalent conservatism in updating, together with the strong influence of the team leader, imply an information loss since the other team members’ knowledge is not sufficiently integrated.

Abstract

We investigate how the selection process of a leader affects team performance with respect to social learning. We use a laboratory experiment in which an incentivized guessing task is repeated in a star network with the leader at the center. Leader selection is either based on competence, on self-confidence, or made at random. In our setting, teams with random leaders do not underperform. They even outperform teams with leaders selected on self-confidence. Hence, self-confidence can be a dangerous proxy for competence of a leader. We show that it is the declaration of the selection procedure which makes non-random leaders overly influential. To investigate the opinion dynamics, we set up a horse race between several rational and naïve models of social learning. The prevalent conservatism in updating, together with the strong influence of the team leader, imply an information loss since the other team members’ knowledge is not sufficiently integrated.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:18 May 2019
Deposited On:24 Sep 2019 09:16
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 07:40
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1386-4157
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10683-019-09614-1
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDBSSGI0_155981
  • : Project TitleSocial norms, cooperation and conflict in scientific collaborations

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