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The Power of (No) Recognition: Experimental Evidence from the University Classroom

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Author Info

  • Hoogveld, Nicky

    (affiliation not available)

  • Zubanov, Nikolay

    ()
    (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Abstract

We study the effect of recognition on performance with a field experiment involving first-year undergraduate students at a Dutch university. Our treatment, given unannounced in randomly selected student groups, was to publicly recognize students who scored within the top 30% of their group on the first of the two midterm exams. The overall treatment effect on the second midterm grade is 0.03s (s = the grade's standard deviation) for the recipients of recognition, and 0.15s for the non-recipients, both statistically insignificant. The effect for the non-recipients increases with class attendance (itself unaffected), and decreases with the distance to the cutoff grade for recognition, reaching a significant 0.44s for those exceeding the minimum attendance requirement and staying within the first quartile of the distance to cutoff. We argue that conformance to performance norm is the most likely behavioral mechanism behind our findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7953.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7953

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Keywords: recognition; performance; experiment;

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  1. Dur R. & Neckermann S. & Bradler C. & Non J.A., 2013. "Employee recognition and performance: A field experiment," Research Memorandum, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE) 017, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
  2. Robert Dur, 2009. "Gift Exchange in The Workplace: Money or Attention?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 550-560, 04-05.
  3. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments, The Field Experiments Website 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Levitt, Steven D. & List, John A. & Neckermann, Susanne & Sado, Sally, 2012. "The behavioralist goes to school: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve educational performance," ZEW Discussion Papers, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research 12-038, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  5. Kosfeld, Michael & Neckermann, Susanne, 2010. "Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 5040, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
  7. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  8. Sebastian Kube & Michel Andre Marechal & Clemens Puppe, 2012. "The Currency of Reciprocity: Gift Exchange in the Workplace," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1644-62, June.
  9. Yan Chen & F. Maxwell Harper & Joseph Konstan & Sherry Xin Li, 2010. "Social Comparisons and Contributions to Online Communities: A Field Experiment on MovieLens," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1358-98, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Christiane Bradler & Robert Dur & Susanne Neckermann & Arjan Non, 2013. "Employee Recognition and Performance: A Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 4164, CESifo Group Munich.

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