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Do managers reciprocate? Field experimental evidence from a competitive market

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  • Michel Marechal
  • Christian Thoni

Abstract

A substantive amount of lab experimental evidence suggests that the norm of reciprocity has important economic consequences. However, it is unclear whether the norm of reciprocity survives in a natural and competitive environment with experienced agents. For this purpose we analyze data from a natural field experiment conducted with sales representatives who were instructed to randomly distribute product samples as gifts to their business partners. We find that distributing gifts to store managers boosts sales revenue substantially, which is consistent with the notion of reciprocity. However, the results underline that the nature of the relationship between market participants crucially affects the prevalence of reciprocal behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00310.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00310

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  1. Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2005. "Endogenous Social Preferences," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 37(1), pages 63-84, March.
  2. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce S., 2007. "Gift Exchange within a Firm: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2696, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Catherine Eckel, 2005. "Subsidizing Charitable Contributions: A Field Test Comparing Matching and Rebate Subsidies," Working Papers 2098, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Bettina Rockenbach & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2005. "In search of worker's real effort reciprocity - a field and a laboratory experiment," Artefactual Field Experiments 00065, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2000. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0008, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
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  7. 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.
  8. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M Schmidt, 2007. "Fairness and Contract Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 121-154, 01.
  12. John List, 2006. "The behavioralist meets the market: Measuring social preferences and reputation effects in actual transactions," Natural Field Experiments 00300, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2005. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 11611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Sebastian Kube & Michel André Maréchal & Clemens Puppe, 2006. "Putting Reciprocity to Work - Positive versus Negative Responses in the Field," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2006 2006-27, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  15. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Sliwka, Dirk, 2005. "Incentives, Decision Frames, and Motivation Crowding Out – An Experimental Investigation," IZA Discussion Papers 1758, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Charness, Gary & Haruvy, Ernan & Sonsino, Doron, 2007. "Social distance and reciprocity: An Internet experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 88-103, May.
  17. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  18. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  19. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Simon Gaechter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2010. "The Impact of Social Camparisons of Reciprocity," Discussion Papers 2010-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  2. Shchetinin, Oleg, 2009. "Contracting under Reciprocal Altruism," TSE Working Papers 09-078, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  3. Vera Angelova & Tobias Regner, 2012. "Do voluntary payments to advisors improve the quality of financial advice? An experimental sender-receiver game," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-011, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  4. Currie, Janet & Lin, Wanchuan & Meng, Juanjuan, 2013. "Social networks and externalities from gift exchange: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 19-30.
  5. Charles Bellemare & Bruce Shearer, 2007. "Gift Exchange within a Firm: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Cahiers de recherche 0708, CIRPEE.
  6. van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2013. "The influence of wages on public officials' corruptibility: A laboratory investigation," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2013-210, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  7. Uwe Dulleck & Jonas Fooken & Yumei He, 2012. "Public Policy and Individual Labor Market Discrimination: An Artefactual Field Experiment in China," QuBE Working Papers 002, QUT Business School.

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