Luis Cornago Bonal & Francesco Raffaelli

  Wednesday, 24th January 2024

  14:00 - 15:00

   CESS Seminar Room - 3 George Street Mews

   When Politics Trumps Merit: The Politics of Workplace Cooperation


A growing body of research shows that partisan animosity has implications in nonpolitical settings, including dating, hiring practices, or economic interactions. Much less is known, however, about its impact on workplace cooperation between colleagues, especially when information about coworkers’ competence – an important characteristic in the context of work – is also available. In this article, we investigate how workes balance information about coworkers’ political leanings with their competence. The research poses three key questions: (1) How much weight do respondents give to the political leanings and competence of a potential coworker when given the choice of deciding who to work with? (2) How does the effect of these different traits vary depending on the existence of an explicit payoff and the degree reward interdependence (i.e., to what extent salary and promotions prospects are entirely defined by the team performance)? And, finally, (3) when only exposed to copartisan or outpartisan profiles, what is the effect of competence-related considerations? Additionally, we will also explore the heterogeneity of these results depending on (a) the prosociality of respondents’ occupations and (b) the level of in-person socialization required by the job. In this paper, we plan to answer these questions running a conjoint experiment in the United Kingdom. Respondents will choose between hypothetical colleagues, allowing the estimation of causal effects on the willingness to trade competence for political characteristics, thus allowing to benchmark these characteristics with socio-demographic ones that have been traditionally linked to discrimination (e.g., gender and race). This research aims to contribute insights into the implications of affective polarization in workplaces, distinguishing between holding and acting on political attributes, and understanding how individuals in various environments navigate the trade-off between political preferences and competence. Read their PAP here.