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Employee Recognition and Performance: A Field Experiment

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  • Christiane Bradler
  • Robert Dur
  • Susanne Neckermann
  • Arjan Non

Abstract

This paper reports the results from a controlled field experiment designed to investigate the causal effect of public recognition on employee performance. We hired more than 300 employees to work on a three-hour data-entry task. In a random sample of work groups, workers unexpectedly received recognition after two hours of work. We find that recognition increases subsequent performance substantially, and particularly so when recognition is exclusively provided to the best performers. Remarkably, workers who did not receive recognition are mainly responsible for this performance increase. This result is consistent with workers having a preference for conformity.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2013/wp-cesifo-2013-03/cesifo1_wp4164.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4164.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4164

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Keywords: employee motivation; recognition; reciprocity; conformity; field experiment;

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References

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  1. Prendergast, Canice & Stole, Lars, 2001. "The non-monetary nature of gifts," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1793-1810, December.
  2. Robert Dur & Arjan Non & Hein Roelfsema, 2008. "Reciprocity and Incentive Pay in the Workplace," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-080/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  3. Freeman, Richard B. & Gelber, Alexander M., 2008. "Prize Structure and Information in Tournaments: Experimental Evidence," MPRA Paper 12156, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  6. Ghazala Azmat & Nagore Iriberri, 2009. "The importance of relative performance feedback information: Evidence from a natural experiment using high school students," Economics Working Papers 1148, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2010.
  7. Robert Dur, 2009. "Gift Exchange in The Workplace: Money or Attention?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 550-560, 04-05.
  8. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2011. "Conspicuous generosity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1131-1143.
  9. Fisher, Robert J & Ackerman, David, 1998. " The Effects of Recognition and Group Need on Volunteerism: A Social Norm Perspective," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(3), pages 262-75, December.
  10. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
  11. Sebastian Kube & Michel André Maréchal & Clemens Puppe, 2010. "The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace," IEW - Working Papers 377, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Aug 2011.
  12. 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.
  13. Michael Kosfeld & Susanne Neckermann, 2011. "Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 86-99, August.
  14. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  15. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
  16. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  17. Non, Arjan, 2012. "Gift-exchange, incentives, and heterogeneous workers," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 319-336.
  18. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2004. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000439, UCLA Department of Economics.
  19. Paul Fischer & Steven Huddart, 2008. "Optimal Contracting with Endogenous Social Norms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1459-75, September.
  20. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2006. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 5768, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Jordi Blanes i Vidal & Mareike Nossol, 2011. "Tournaments Without Prizes: Evidence from Personnel Records," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(10), pages 1721-1736, October.
  22. Camelia M. Kuhnen & Agnieszka Tymula, 2012. "Feedback, Self-Esteem, and Performance in Organizations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(1), pages 94-113, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Levitt, Steven D. & List, John A. & Neckermann, Susanne & Sado, Sally, 2012. "The behavioralist goes to school: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve educational performance," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-038, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  2. Oriana Bandiera & Valentino Larcinese & Imran Rasul, 2014. "Blissful Ignorance? A Natural Experiment on the Effect of Feedback on Students'Performance," Working Papers 511, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. Kosfeld, Michael & Neckermann, Susanne & Yang, Xiaolan, 2014. "Knowing that You Matter, Matters! The Interplay of Meaning, Monetary Incentives, and Worker Recognition," IZA Discussion Papers 8055, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Lee, Scott S., 2014. "Awards unbundled: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 44-63.
  5. Kvaløy, Ola & Nieken, Petra & Schöttner, Anja, 2013. "Hidden Benefits of Reward: A Field Experiment on Motivation and Monetary Incentives," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 451, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  6. Rosendahl Huber, Laura & Sloof, Randolph & van Praag, Mirjam, 2014. "Jacks-of-All-Trades? The Effect of Balanced Skills on Team Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 8237, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Sabrina Jeworrek & Vanessa Mertins, 2014. "When Pay Increases are Not Enough: The Economic Value of Wage Delegation in the Field," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201408, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  8. Leonie Gerhards & Neele Siemer, 2014. "Private versus Public Feedback - The Incentive Effects of Symbolic Awards," Economics Working Papers 2014-01, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  9. Julian Conrads & Bernd Irlenbusch & Tommaso Reggiani & Rainer Michael Rilke & Dirk Sliwka, 2013. "How to Hire Helpers? Evidence From a Field Experiment," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 04-03, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
  10. Hoogveld, Nicky & Zubanov, Nikolay, 2014. "The Power of (No) Recognition: Experimental Evidence from the University Classroom," IZA Discussion Papers 7953, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Danilov, Anastasia & Sliwka, Dirk, 2013. "Can Contracts Signal Social Norms? Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 7477, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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