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Pro-Social Missions and Worker Motivation: An Experimental Study

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Author Info

  • Fehrler, Sebastian

    ()
    (University of Zurich)

  • Kosfeld, Michael

    ()
    (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Abstract

Do employees work harder if their job has the right mission? In a laboratory labor market experiment, we test whether subjects provide higher effort if they can choose the mission of their job. We observe that subjects do not provide higher effort than in a control treatment. Surprised by this finding, we run a second experiment in which subjects can choose whether they want to work on a job with their preferred mission or not. A subgroup of agents (roughly one third) is willing to do so even if this option is more costly than choosing the alternative job. Moreover, we find that these subjects provide substantially higher effort. These results suggest that relatively few workers can be motivated by missions and that selection into mission-oriented organizations is important to explain empirical findings of lower wages and high motivation in the latter.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6460.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2014, 100, 99-110
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6460

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Keywords: lab experiment; motivation; effort provision; contract choice; sorting;

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References

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  1. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  2. Jeffrey Carpenter & Caitlin Knowles Myers, 2010. "Why Volunteer? Evidence on the Role of Altruism, Image, and Incentives," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 1023, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Michael Kosfeld & Ferdinand A. von Siemens, 2011. "Competition, cooperation, and corporate culture," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(1), pages 23-43, 03.
  4. Nyborg, Karine & Zhang, Tao, 2011. "Is corporate social responsibility associated with lower wages?," Memorandum 01/2011, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  5. Paul Gregg & Paul A. Grout & Anita Ratcliffe & Sarah Smith & Frank Windmeijer, 2008. "How important is pro-social behaviour in the delivery of public services?," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/197, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  6. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2003. "Signaling and Screening of Workers' motivation," CESifo Working Paper Series 1099, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Nyborg, Karine, 2008. "Attracting responsible employees: Green production as labor market screening," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 509-526, December.
  8. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2010. "Disentangling the sources of pro-socially motivated effort: A field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1086-1092, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Robin Zoutenbier, 2014. "The Impact of Matching Mission Preferences on Well-being at Work," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-036/I, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Fehrler, Sebastian & Kosfeld, Michael, 2013. "Can you trust the good guys? Trust within and between groups with different missions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(3), pages 400-404.
  3. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Gong, Erick, 2013. "Motivating Agents: How Much Does the Mission Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 7602, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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).
  5. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2012. "Social Incentives Matter: Evidence from an Online Real Effort Experiment," AICCON Working Papers 112-2012, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  6. Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2014. "Corporate Philanthropy and Productivity: Evidence from an Online Real Effort Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 4778, CESifo Group Munich.

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