Competition breeds more trust among co-workers: Study

Washington: According to a recent study, working in a competitive industry fosters a greater level of trust amongst workers.

The authors of the study suggested that more intense competition in an industry leads to more pro-social behaviour, like sharing, co-operation, and volunteering, at a company.

Patrick Francois, the co-author of the study, said, “In competitive markets, employers unable to elicit such cooperative behaviour are likely to be out-competed by those that are more successful in doing so. Pro-social behaviour from employees makes them more productive, which is good for business.”

In a laboratory experiment aimed at replicating the industry data in a controlled environment, the researchers had participants play the public goods game, a standard of experimental economics. The game sees participants make a choice between making a financial contribution to a collective pool or keep their money for themselves.

They ran the game twice, once in the traditional way, and the second time manipulating the degree of competition across the groups to mimic the variation in competition across industries. They found the more competitive version of the game gave rise to more pro-social behaviour and a reported increase in generalized trust amongst the participants. Exactly as seen in the data.

According to the researchers, the origin of pro-social behaviour among humans is still poorly understood, but point to competition across firms as a potential factor supporting cultural evolution.

The full findings appeared in the journal- Science Advances.