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Awards Unbundled: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

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  • Nava Ashraf
  • Oriana Bandiera
  • Scott Lee

Abstract

Organizations often use awards to incentivize performance. We design a field experiment to unbundle the mechanisms through which awards may affect behavior: by facilitating social comparison and by conferring recognition and visibility. In a nationwide health worker training program in Zambia, employer recognition and social visibility increase performance while social comparison reduces it, especially for low-ability trainees. These effects appear when treatments are announced and persist through training. The findings are consistent with a model of optimal expectations in which low-ability individuals exert low effort in order to avoid information about their relative ability.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series with number 46.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:46

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Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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Keywords: awards; social comparison; optimal expectations; incentives. ;

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