We study team formation in real-effort experiments in which participants bargain over a jointly produced outcome depending both on effort and ability. Participants decide between undertaking a task alone or with another participant by releasing the minimum share of the future team outcome that they are willing to accept We find that the equality norm prevails in a context in which merit could play an important role, even for high-ability individuals not willing to claim a large share of the joint profits. We analyze data from France, Japan and Spain, and identify international differences in the patterns of team formation. The equality norm is especially strong in the case of Japanese participants.
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