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Multitasking

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  • Thomas Buser

    ()

  • Noemi Peter

    ()

Abstract

We examine how multitasking affects performance. We also examine whether individuals optimally choose their degree of multitasking or whether they perform better under an externally imposed schedule. Subjects in our experiment perform two different tasks according to one of three treatments: one where they perform the tasks sequentially, one where they are forced to multitask, and one where they can freely organize their work. Subjects who are forced to multitask perform significantly worse than those forced to work sequentially. Surprisingly, subjects who can freely organize their own schedule also perform significantly worse. These results suggest that scheduling is a significant determinant of productivity. Finally, our results do not support the stereotype that women are better at multitasking. Women suffer as much as men when forced to multitask and are actually less inclined to multitask when being free to choose. Copyright The Author(s) 2012

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 15 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 641-655

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:15:y:2012:i:4:p:641-655

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102888

Related research

Keywords: Multitasking; Productivity; Lab experiment; Gender; C91; J24; J16;

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References

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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  2. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
  3. Drago, Robert & Garvey, Gerald T, 1998. "Incentives for Helping on the Job: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-25, January.
  4. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  5. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J., 1999. "Multi-Task Learning and the Reorganization of Work. From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," IZA Discussion Papers 39, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 2006. "A Dual Self Model of Impulse Control," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2112, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Jennifer Foster & Charlene Kalenkoski, 2010. "The Multitasking of Household Production," Discussion Papers 2010-02, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  8. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  9. Anja Schöttner, 2008. "Relational Contracts, Multitasking, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 138-162, May.
  10. Shiv, Baba & Fedorikhin, Alexander, 1999. " Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 278-92, December.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Multitasking: Productivity Effects and Gender Differences
    by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2011-03-28 23:52:10
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Cited by:
  1. Foster, Gigi & Kalenkoski, Charlene M., 2012. "Measuring the Relative Productivity of Multitasking to Sole-tasking in Household Production: New Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 6763, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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