Social Comparison in the Workplace: Evidence from a Field Experiment
AbstractWe conducted a randomized field experiment to examine how workers respond to wage cuts, and whether their response depends on the wages paid to coworkers. Workers were assigned to teams of two, performed identical individual tasks, and received the same performance – independent hourly wage. Cutting both team members' wages caused a substantial decrease in performance. When only one team member's wage was cut, the performance decrease for the workers who received the cut was more than twice as large as the individual performance decrease when both workers' wages were cut. This finding indicates that social comparison processes among workers affect effort provision because the only difference between the two wage cut conditions is the other team member's wage level. In contrast, workers whose wage was not cut but who witnessed their team member's pay being cut displayed no change in performance relative to the baseline treatment in which both workers' wages remained unchanged, indicating that social comparison exerts asymmetric effects on effort.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5550.
Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2011
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Other versions of this item:
- Alain Cohn & Ernst Fehr & Benedikt Herrmann & Frédéric Schneider, 2011. "Social comparison in the workplace: evidence from a field experiment," ECON - Working Papers 007, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
- C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
- J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
- M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Personnel Economics - - - Training
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-03-12 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2011-03-12 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2011-03-12 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-HRM-2011-03-12 (Human Capital & Human Resource Management)
- NEP-LAB-2011-03-12 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2011-03-12 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.