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Peer Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from Random Groupings in Professional Golf Tournaments

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  • Jonathan Guryan
  • Kory Kroft
  • Matt Notowidigdo

Abstract

This paper uses the random assignment of playing partners in professional golf tournaments to test for peer effects in the workplace. We find no evidence that the ability of playing partners affects the performance of professional golfers, contrary to recent evidence on peer effects in the workplace from laboratory experiments, grocery scanners, and soft-fruit pickers. In our preferred specification, we can rule out peer effects larger than 0.045 strokes for a one stroke increase in playing partners' ability, and the point estimates are small and actually negative. We offer several explanations for our contrasting findings: that workers seek to avoid responding to social incentives when financial incentives are strong; that there is heterogeneity in how susceptible individuals are to social effects and that those who are able to avoid them are more likely to advance to elite professional labor markets; and that workers learn with professional experience not to be affected by social forces. We view our results as complementary to the existing studies of peer effects in the workplace and as a first step towards explaining how these social effects vary across labor markets, across individuals and with changes in the form of incentives faced. In addition to the empirical results on peer effects in the workplace, we also point out that many typical peer effects regressions are biased because individuals cannot be their own peers, and suggest a simple correction.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13422.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Publication status: published as Jonathan Guryan & Kory Kroft & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2009. "Peer Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from Random Groupings in Professional Golf Tournaments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 34-68, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13422

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  1. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
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  3. David J. Zimmerman, 2003. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 9-23, February.
  4. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 1998. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," Working papers 98-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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  8. John List, 2006. "The behavioralist meets the market: Measuring social preferences and reputation effects in actual transactions," Natural Field Experiments 00300, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-24, December.
  10. Thomas Lemieux & W. Bentley MacLeod & Daniel Parent, 2007. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 13128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Orszag, Jonathan M., 1994. "A new look at incentive effects and golf tournaments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 77-88, September.
  12. Gordon C. Winston & David J. Zimmerman, 2003. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-64, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    • Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  14. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  15. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role Of Information And Social Interactions In Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence From A Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842, August.
  16. List, John & Millimet, Daniel, . "Bounding the Impact of Market Experience on Rationality: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Imperfect Compliance," Departmental Working Papers 0505, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
  17. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Social Incentives in the Workplace," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 417-458.
  18. Manski, C.F., 1991. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: the Reflection Problem," Working papers 9127, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  19. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects With Random Assignment: Results For Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704, May.
  20. Roland BĂ©nabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence And Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915, August.
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