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Gift Exchange within a Firm: Evidence from a Field Experiment

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  • Bellemare, Charles

    ()
    (Université Laval)

  • Shearer, Bruce S.

    ()
    (Université Laval)

Abstract

We present results from a field experiment testing the gift-exchange hypothesis inside a tree-planting firm paying its workforce incentive contracts. Firm managers told a crew of tree planters they would receive a pay raise for one day as a result of a surplus not attributable to past planting productivity. We compare planter productivity – the number of trees planted per day – on the day the gift was handed out with productivity on previous and subsequent days of planting on the same block, and thus under similar planting conditions. We find direct evidence that the gift had a significant and positive effect on daily planter productivity, controlling for planter-fixed effects, weather conditions and other random daily shocks. Moreover, reciprocity is the strongest when the relationship between planters and the firm is longterm.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2696.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "Gift giving and worker productivity: Evidence from a firm-level experiment" in: Games and Economic Behavior, 2009, 67 (1), 233-244
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2696

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Keywords: field experiments; reciprocity; gift exchange; incentive contracts;

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References

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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Gachter, Simon, 1998. "Reciprocity and economics: The economic implications of Homo Reciprocans1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 845-859, May.
  2. 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.
  3. H. Lorne Carmichael & W. Bentley MacLeod, 1997. "Gift Giving and the Evolution of Cooperation," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 338., Boston College Department of Economics.
  4. Michel Marechal & Christian Thoni, 2007. "Do managers reciprocate? Field experimental evidence from a competitive market," Natural Field Experiments 00310, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Sebastian Kube & Michel Marechal & Puppe Clemens, 2006. "Putting reciprocity to work - positive versus negative responses in the field," Natural Field Experiments 00291, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Camerer, Colin & Babcock, Linda & Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard, 1996. "Labor Supply of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day At A time," Working Papers 960, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  7. Bandiera, Oriana & Barankay, Iwan & Rasul, Imran, 2006. "Incentives for Managers and Inequality Among Workers: Evidence from a Firm Level Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2062, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Dickinson, David L, 1999. "An Experimental Examination of Labor Supply and Work Intensities," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 638-70, October.
  9. Paarsch, Harry J. & Shearer, Bruce, 1996. "Piece Rates, Fixed Wages, and Incentive Effects: Statistical Evidence from Payroll Records," Cahiers de recherche 9623, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  10. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Götte, 2005. "Do Workers Work More if Wages are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 125, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  11. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Riedl, Arno, 1998. "Gift exchange and reciprocity in competitive experimental markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-34, January.
  12. 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.
  13. Falk, Armin & Gachter, Simon & Kovacs, Judit, 1999. "Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic incentives in a repeated game with incomplete contracts," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 251-284, June.
  14. Armin Falk, 2007. "Gift Exchange in the Field," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(5), pages 1501-1511, 09.
  15. R. Lynn Hannan & John H. Kagel & Donald V. Moser, 2002. "Partial Gift Exchange in an Experimental Labor Market: Impact of Subject Population Differences, Productivity Differences, and Effort Requests on Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 923-951, October.
  16. 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.
  17. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  18. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
  19. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  20. Herbert A. Simon, 1991. "Organizations and Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 25-44, Spring.
  21. Fehr, Ernst & Götte, Lorenz, 2004. "Do Workers Work More When Wages Are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1002, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2005. "On the Nature of Reciprocal Motives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 623-635, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Schmidt, Klaus M., 2009. "Social Preferences and Competition," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 298, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  2. Shchetinin, Oleg, 2009. "Contracting Under Reciprocal Altruism," MPRA Paper 13457, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Martin Brown & Christian Zehnder, 2008. "On reputation: A microfoundation of contract enforcement and price rigidity," IEW - Working Papers 384, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Florian Englmaier & Stephen G. Leider, 2008. "Contractual and Organizational Structurewith Reciprocal Agents," CESifo Working Paper Series 2415, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Uschi Backes-Gellner & Donata Bessey & Kerstin Pull & Simone Tuor, 2008. "What Behavioural Economics Teaches Personnel Economics," Working Papers 0077, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
  6. Michel Marechal & Christian Thoni, 2007. "Do managers reciprocate? Field experimental evidence from a competitive market," Natural Field Experiments 00310, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. John List, 2009. "Introduction to field experiments in economics," Artefactual Field Experiments 00087, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Kube, Sebastian & Maréchal, Michel André & Puppe, Clemens, 2011. "The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace," Working Paper Series in Economics 25, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.

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