LOCH Christoph, AHMAD Ghufran
The Interaction Between Competitive and Cooperative Preferences in Social Dilemma Situations in Teams Journal of Operations Management Forthcoming
A social dilemma occurs when it is optimal for each member of a team to act in his own interest but, if all participants do so, everyone is worse-off than if they had done otherwise. Social dilemmas are often observed in operational processes involving teamwork, such as developing new products or implementing total quality programs. The extent to which an employee cooperates with others is driven not only by material incentives but also by social preferences: individuals have an interest in the welfare of others as well as their own. Two known social preferences are status and relationship maintenance. Multiple studies have shown that status seeking leads team members to compete more whereas relationship building leads them to cooperate more. The question remains of whether these two preferences can coexist and complement one another (as when status seeking triggers effort and relationship building encourages cooperation) or whether they are at odds. In this experimental study we demonstrate that these two social preferences hinder one another: status reduces the collaboration benefit from relationships, and increases only individual, but not collaborative, effort. These results suggest that managerial interventions that promote status seeking and relationship building behavior cannot easily be used simultaneously when motivating teams to perform in situations involving social dilemmas.