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The impact of competition on information exchange and well-being

Working groupSocial Processes Lab



IWM budget resources

Project description

Competition is present in many everyday life situations and is sought to motivate employees within organizations to perform better. Apart from the at least partly proven positive effects of competition on the effort of the involved parties, research has also shown that competition has negative consequences for collaboration. In this project, we thus examine the underlying processes as well as potential solutions to foster collaboration.

Competition leads to less exchange of useful or important information or even enhances distortion of information. Although such behaviors raise the individual chance of immediate success, these behaviors crucially harm the success of a (work) group. One important cause hereof seems to be a cognitive alignment towards 'winning' within competition – that is, a competitive mindset that prevents the collaboration with others. Such a purely competitive mindset, however, often conflicts with the demands in everyday life. For example, employees often have to compete and prevail against colleagues with whom they simultaneously need to cooperate.

Based on that, in this project, we differentiate between pure competition (without cooperative demands) and co-opetition: The necessity to prevail against others with whom one also has to cooperate (i.e., a combination of competition and cooperation). Within lab experiments, we examine the differential impacts of pure competition and co-opetition - as onetime or permanent experience - for example on information exchange. By means of surveys, we investigate how co-opetition affects every day work within organizations. The aim of this project is to improve our understanding of the impact of competitive and cooperative demands on collaboration within organizations and well-being of employees.


Landkammer, F., Winter, K., Thiel, A., & Sassenberg, K. (2019). Team Sports Off the Field: Competing Excludes Cooperating for Individual but Not for Team Athletes. Frontiers in Psychology, 10:2470.

Landkammer, F., & Sassenberg, K. (2016). Competing while cooperating with the same others: The consequences of conflicting demands in co-opetition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 1670-1686.

Landkammer, F., & Sassenberg, K. (2016). Der Einfluss von Gruppenmitgliedschaften auf den Informationsaustausch mit digitalen Kommunikationsmedien. Themenheft: Psychologie und Wissensmedien. Psychologische Rundschau, 67, 110 - 117.