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Is There a 'Hidden Cost of Control' in Naturally-Occurring Markets? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

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  • Craig E. Landry
  • Andreas Lange
  • John A. List
  • Michael K. Price
  • Nicholas G. Rupp

Abstract

Several recent laboratory experiments have shown that the use of explicit incentives—such as conditional rewards and punishment—entail considerable “hidden” costs. The costs are hidden in the sense that they escape our attention if our reasoning is based on the assumption that people are exclusively self-interested. This study represents a first attempt to explore whether, and to what extent, such considerations affect equilibrium outcomes in the field. Using data gathered from nearly 3000 households, we find little support for the negative consequences of control in naturally-occurring labor markets. In fact, even though we find evidence that workers are reciprocal, we find that worker effort is maximized when we use conditional—not unconditional—rewards to incent workers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17472.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17472

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References

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  1. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John List & Michael Price & Nicholas Rupp, 2010. "Is a donor in hand better than two in the bush? Evidence from a natural field experiment," Artefactual Field Experiments 00077, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Dean Karlan & John A. List, 2007. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1774-1793, December.
  3. 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.
  4. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 2003. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Labor and Demography 0305001, EconWPA.
  6. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  8. 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.
  9. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "Anonymity, Reciprocity, and Conformity: Evidence from Voluntary Contributions to a National Park in Costa Rica," Discussion Papers dp-08-03-efd, Resources For the Future.
  10. Craig E. Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2011. "The Hidden Benefits of Control: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 17473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
  12. E. Fehr & John A. List, . "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives - Trust and Trustworthiness among CEOs," IEW - Working Papers 134, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John List & Michael Price & Nicholas Rupp, 2006. "Toward an understanding of the economics of charity: Evidence from a field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00292, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. repec:feb:artefa:0093 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce, 2009. "Gift giving and worker productivity: Evidence from a firm-level experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 233-244, September.
  16. Uri Gneezy & John A. List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 12063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman, 2008. "Subsidizing charitable contributions: a natural field experiment comparing matching and rebate subsidies," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 234-252, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Craig E. Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2011. "The Hidden Benefits of Control: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 17473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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