One significant challenge of motivating team performance is that the contribution of individual team members is difficult to observe. In this setting, managers often seek private information about team members’ relative contributions to help allocate team bonuses. However, the presence of self-interested biases in such communication, especially strategic bias, could reduce its informational value. We study the effects of two features of team members’ communication about their relative contributions—whether it is mandatory or voluntary and whether an explanation is required—on the severity of employees’ self-interested biases in their communication. As predicted, experimental results show that when explanations are not required, low-ability team members incorporate more strategic bias into their relative contribution communication when it is voluntary, compared to mandatory. We also observe that among low-ability team members, the greater strategic bias observed when the relative contribution communication is voluntary, compared to mandatory, diminishes when an explanation is required.

Data Availability: Data are available from the authors upon request.

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