Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

The Impact of Social Comparisons on Reciprocity

Contents:

Author Info

  • Simon Gächter
  • Daniele Nosenzo
  • Martin Sefton

Abstract

We investigate the effects of pay comparison information (i.e. information about what coworkers earn) and effort comparison information (information about how co-workers perform) in experimental firms composed of one employer and two employees. Exposure to pay comparison information in isolation from effort comparison information does not appear to affect reciprocity toward employers: in this case own wage is a powerful determinant of own effort, but co-worker wages have no effect. By contrast, we find that exposure to both pieces of social information systematically influences employees’ reciprocity. A generous wage offer is virtually ineffective if an employee is matched with a lazy co-worker who is also paid generously: in such circumstances the employee tends to expend low effort irrespective of her own wage. Reciprocity is more pronounced when the co-worker is hard-working, as effort is strongly and positively related to own wage in this case. Reciprocity is also pronounced when the employer pays unequal wages to the employees: in this case the co-worker’s effort decision is disregarded and effort decisions are again strongly and positively related to own wage. On average exposure to social information weakens reciprocity, though we find substantial heterogeneity in responses across individuals, and find that sometimes social information has beneficial effects. We suggest that group composition may be an important tool for harnessing the positive effects of social comparison processes.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-9442.2012.01730.x
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Scandinavian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 114 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 1346-1367

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:114:y:2012:i:4:p:1346-1367

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1467-9442

Order Information:
Web: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/subs.asp?ref=0347-0520

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1995. " Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(2), pages 295-307, June.
  2. Christian Grund & Niels Westergaard-Nielsen, 2005. "The Dispersion of Employees' Wage Increases and Firm Performance," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse3_2005, University of Bonn, Germany.
  3. Simon Gächter & Ernst Fehr, . "Fairness in the Labour Market – A Survey of Experimental Results," IEW - Working Papers 114, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Main, Brian G M & O'Reilly, Charles A, III & Wade, James, 1993. "Top Executive Pay: Tournament or Teamwork?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 606-28, October.
  5. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, . "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior - Testing ‘Conditional Cooperation’ in a Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 162, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  7. Bellemare, Charles & Lepage, Patrick & Shearer, Bruce, 2010. "Peer pressure, incentives, and gender: An experimental analysis of motivation in the workplace," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 276-283, January.
  8. Anna Gunnthorsdottir & Daniel Houser & Kevin McCabe & Holly Ameden, 2004. "Disposition, History and Contributions in Public Goods Experiments," Experimental 0401001, EconWPA.
  9. Adriana D. Kugler & Gilles Saint-Paul, 2004. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Worker Flows in a World with Adverse Selection?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 553-584, July.
  10. Umut Ones & Louis Putterman, 2004. "The Ecology of Collective Action: A Public Goods and Sanctions Experiment with Controlled Group Formation," Working Papers 2004-01, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  11. Iris Bohnet & Richard Zeckhauser, 2004. "Social comparisons in ultimatum bargaining," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  12. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter J., 2010. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," IZA Discussion Papers 4941, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Sandra Maximiano & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2004. "Gift Exchange in a Multi-worker Firm," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-100/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  14. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  15. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
  16. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000143, David K. Levine.
  17. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1988. "Fairness and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 44-49, May.
  18. Eriksson, Tor, 1999. "Executive Compensation and Tournament Theory: Empirical Tests on Danish Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 262-80, April.
  19. Knez Marc J. & Camerer Colin F., 1995. "Outside Options and Social Comparison in Three-Player Ultimatum Game Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 65-94, July.
  20. Werner Güth & Martin G. Kocher & Vera Popova, 2010. "Co-employment of permanently and temporarily employed agents," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-016, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  21. Bicchieri, Cristina & Erte, Xiao, 2007. "Do the right thing: But only if others do so," MPRA Paper 4609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  22. Charness, Gary B, 2004. "Attribution And Reciprocity In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8rp6b18c, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  23. E. Fehr & John A. List, . "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives - Trust and Trustworthiness among CEOs," IEW - Working Papers 134, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  24. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gachter, 2010. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 541-56, March.
  25. Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Josef Zweimueller, . "Intra-firm Wage Dispersion and Firm Performance," IEW - Working Papers 008, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  26. Bardsley, Nicholas & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2005. "Conformity and reciprocity in public good provision," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 664-681, October.
  27. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, 09.
  28. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "When In Rome: Conformity and the Provision of Public Goods," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0217, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  29. Martin, Richard & Randal, John, 2008. "How is donation behaviour affected by the donations of others?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 228-238, July.
  30. Daniele Nosenzo, 2010. "The Impact Of Pay Comparisons On Effort Behavior," Discussion Papers 2010-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  31. Konow, James, 1996. "A positive theory of economic fairness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 13-35, October.
  32. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  33. Krupka, Erin & Weber, Roberto A., 2009. "The focusing and informational effects of norms on pro-social behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 307-320, June.
  34. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2004. "Do Labour Market Conditions Affect Gift Exchange? Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 684-708, 07.
  35. Andrew E. Clark & David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2010. "Effort and Comparison Income: Experimental and Survey Evidence," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(3), pages 407-426, April.
  36. Abeler, Johannes & Altmann, Steffen & Kube, Sebastian & Wibral, Matthias, 2006. "Reciprocity and Payment Schemes: When Equality Is Unfair," IZA Discussion Papers 2500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  37. Pedro S. Martins, 2008. "Dispersion in Wage Premiums and Firm Performance," Working Papers 8, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
  38. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  39. Luigi Mittone & Matteo Ploner, 2009. "Social Effects in a Multi-Agent Investment Game. An Experimental Analysis," CEEL Working Papers 0905, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  40. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2007. "Anonymity, Reciprocity, and Conformity: Evidence from Voluntary Contributions to a National Park in Costa Rica," Working Papers in Economics 245, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  41. Hibbs Jr., Douglas A. & Locking, Håkan, 2000. "Wage Dispersion and Productive Efficiency: Evidence For Sweden," Working Papers in Economics 21, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  42. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
  43. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2002. "Why Social Preferences Matter -- The Impact of Non-Selfish Motives on Competition, Cooperation and Incentives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C1-C33, March.
  44. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  45. Arngrim Hunnes, 2009. "Internal wage dispersion and firm performance: white-collar evidence," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(8), pages 776-796, November.
  46. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  47. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette & Christian Zehnder, 2009. "A Behavioral Account of the Labor Market: The Role of Fairness Concerns," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 355-384, 05.
  48. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  49. Heike Hennig‐Schmidt & Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Bettina Rockenbach, 2010. "In Search of Workers' Real Effort Reciprocity—a Field and a Laboratory Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 817-837, 06.
  50. Alewell, Dorothea & Nicklisch, Andreas, 2009. "Wage differentials and social comparison: An experimental study of interrelated ultimatum bargaining," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 210-220, September.
  51. Michel André Maréchal & Christian Thöni, 2007. "Do Managers Reciprocate? Field Experimental Evidence From a Competitive Market," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2007 2007-09, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  52. Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti, 2006. "Peers at Work," NBER Working Papers 12508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  53. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  54. Roberto Burlando & Francesco Guala, 2005. "Heterogeneous Agents in Public Goods Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 35-54, April.
  55. Teck-Hua Ho & Xuanming Su, 2009. "Peer-Induced Fairness in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2022-49, December.
  56. Uwe Jirjahn & Kornelius Kraft, 2007. "Intra-firm Wage Dispersion and Firm Performance - Is There a Uniform Relationship?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 231-253, 05.
  57. Rachel Croson & Jen Shang, 2008. "The impact of downward social information on contribution decisions," Natural Field Experiments 00322, The Field Experiments Website.
  58. Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn, 2007. "Does Pay Inequality Affect Worker Effort? Experimental Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 693-723.
  59. Fehr, Ernst, et al, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-51, April.
  60. Werner Güth & Manfred Königstein & Judit Kovács & Enikõ Zala-Mezõ, 2001. "Fairness Within Firms: The Case Of One Principal And Multiple Agents," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 53(2), pages 82-101, April.
  61. Jordi Brandts & Enrique Fatás, 2004. "Endogenous social influence in an experimental dilemma game," Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces 2004/59, Centro de Estudios Andaluces.
  62. Nils Braakmann, 2008. "Intra-firm wage inequality and firm performance – First evidence from German linked employer-employee-data," Working Paper Series in Economics 77, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  63. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  64. Simon Gächter & Christian Thöni, 2005. "Social Learning and Voluntary Cooperation Among Like-Minded People," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 303-314, 04/05.
  65. Simon Gaechter & Armin Falk, . "Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," IEW - Working Papers 019, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  66. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce, 2009. "Gift giving and worker productivity: Evidence from a firm-level experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 233-244, September.
  67. Armin Falk, 2007. "Gift Exchange in the Field," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(5), pages 1501-1511, 09.
  68. Rupert Sausgruber, 2005. "Testing for Team Spirit - An Experimental Study," Experimental 0508001, EconWPA.
  69. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
  70. Greenberg, Jerald & Ashton-James, Claire E. & Ashkanasy, Neal M., 2007. "Social comparison processes in organizations," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 22-41, January.
  71. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2009. "A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1422-1439, October.
  72. Clark, Kenneth & Sefton, Martin, 2001. "The Sequential Prisoner's Dilemma: Evidence on Reciprocation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 51-68, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:114:y:2012:i:4:p:1346-1367. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.