Not all group members are created equal: heterogeneous abilities in inter-group contests

Francesco Fallucchi, Enrique Fatas, Felix Kölle, Ori Weisel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Competition between groups is ubiquitous in social and economic life, and typically occurs between groups that are not created equal. Here we experimentally investigate the implications of this general observation on the unfolding of symmetric and asymmetric competition between groups that are either homogeneous or heterogeneous in the ability of their members to contribute to the success of the group. Our main finding is that relative to the benchmark case in which two homogeneous compete against each other, heterogeneity within groups per se has no discernable effect on competition, while introducing heterogeneity between groups leads to a significant intensification of conflict as well as increased volatility, thereby reducing earnings of contest participants and increasing inequality. We further find that heterogeneous groups share the labor much more equally than predicted by theory, and that in asymmetric contests group members change the way in which they condition their efforts on those of their peers. Implications for contest designers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-697
Number of pages29
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Abilities
  • Contests
  • Experiments
  • Groups
  • Heterogeneity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Not all group members are created equal: heterogeneous abilities in inter-group contests'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this