The influence of the introduction of a gender quota on work motivation: An experimental approach

Julia Luise Goede

Student thesis: Master thesis


Even though the countries in the European Union aim at providing the same opportunities for men and women in the business world, this effort has not lead to gender equality in the highest management positions. Male dominance is still the everlasting. With this, the introduction of a gender based promotion quota has become a common approach to tackle the gender imbalance in top management positions over the recent years. Yet, the influences of the implementation of such a quota have not been thoroughly evaluated. This paper, therefore, analyses the influences of an introduction of a gender quota on work motivation for top management employees. In the field of work motivation, tournament theory is a commonly used approach that suggests that people are best motivated when they are able to win a prize. A clear cut between what the winner and what the losers receive, provides the most important incentive. Yet, what happens if the tournament is unfair? With the introduction of a gender quota, women need to be promoted first in order to fulfill the requirements. While women enjoy this privileged treatment, the promotion possibilities of men are severely limited. This thesis, therefore, analyzes how the work motivation of top management employees is impacted by the implementation of a gender quota using tournament theory as a framework. The evaluation comes to a mixed conclusion. On the one hand side, the analyzed theory clearly implies that the work motivation, especially of men, is likely to be seriously deprived, while female motivation remains the same. Yet, the empirical data collection, on the other hand side, in form of an experiment, did not allow for the validation of the implications of tournament theory. Even though, the chances of winning differed for the participants, the subjects seemed to be equally motivated across groups. This outcome, therefore, implies that not all work motivation can be explained by the incentives suggested by tournament theory, but additional intrinsic factors are influential. For the business world the analyzed theory, thus, signalizes that the implementation of a gender quota has a negative influence on work motivation, especially of the male workforce. Yet, the results of the experiment suggest the contrary: Employee motivation remains the same, even in an unfair tournament.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages92