Competition and gender in the lab vs field: Experiments from off-grid renewable energy entrepreneurs in Rural Rwanda

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Abstract

We examine how gender attitudes and performance under competitive situations in the lab reflect microenterprise outcomes in the renewable energy sector of Rwanda – a country with progressive gender policies despite its traditional patriarchal setup. We adopt the standard Niederle and Vesterlund (2007) experimental design in addition to a unique dataset from off-grid microenterprises, managed by entrepreneurs who were working in mixed and single-sex teams prior to the lab experiments. After a piece-rate and a tournament compensation schemes, participants are offered to the opportunity to choose their compensation scheme between these two options in a third round. We find that female entrepreneurs are not less likely to compete and are not outperformed by male entrepreneurs. This stands in contrast to several studies, mostly conducted on university students of developed countries. Furthermore, we leverage administrative and self-reported business data to show that the female entrepreneurs who chose to compete in the lab perform as well as their male counterparts, providing some external validity to our lab results.

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Klege, R. A., Visser, M., Barron A, M. F., & Clarke, R. P. (2021). Competition and gender in the lab vs field: Experiments from off-grid renewable energy entrepreneurs in Rural Rwanda. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics , 91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2021.101662

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