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Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance

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Author Info

  • Kosfeld, Michael

    ()
    (Goethe University Frankfurt)

  • Neckermann, Susanne

    ()
    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

We study the impact of status and social recognition on worker performance in a field experiment. In collaboration with an international non-governmental organization we hired students to work on a database project. Students in the award treatment were offered a congratulatory card from the organization honoring the best performance. The award was purely symbolic in order to ensure that any behavioral effect is driven by non-material benefits. Our results show that students in the award treatment outperform students in the control treatment by about 12 percent on average. Our results provide strong evidence for the motivating power of status and social recognition in labor relations with major implications for theory and applications.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5040.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2011, 3 (3), 86-99
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5040

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Related research

Keywords: award; non-monetary incentives; status; field experiment; social recognition;

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References

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  1. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
  2. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Renault, Régis, 2007. "Status and Incentives," IDEI Working Papers 451, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  3. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2009. "Was there Really a Hawthorne Effect at the Hawthorne Plant? An Analysis of the Original Illumination Experiments," NBER Working Papers 15016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ederer, Florian & Patacconi, Andrea, 2010. "Interpersonal comparison, status and ambition in organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 348-363, August.
  5. Robert Dur, 2008. "Gift Exchange in the Workplace: Money or Attention?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2496, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. 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.
  7. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner & Shi, Xianwen, 2005. "Contests for Status," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 139, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Sol, Joeri & Verbeke, Willem, 2009. "Tournament Incentives in the Field: Gender Differences in the Workplace," IZA Discussion Papers 4395, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Ariely, Dan & Bracha, Anat & Meier, Stephan, 2007. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," IZA Discussion Papers 2968, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status In Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188, February.
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