Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Do wage cuts damage work morale? Evidence from a natural field experiment

Contents:

Author Info

  • Sebastian Kube
  • Michel André Maréchal
  • Clemens Puppe

Abstract

Employment contracts are often incomplete, leaving many responsibilities subject to workers’ discretion. High work morale is therefore essential for sustaining voluntary cooperation and high productivity in firms. We conducted a field experiment to test whether workers reciprocate wage cuts and raises with low or high work productivity. Wage cuts had a detrimental and persistent impact on productivity, reducing average output by more than 20 percent. An equivalent wage increase, however, did not result in any productivity gains. The results from an additional control experiment with high monetary performance incentives demonstrate that workers could still produce substantially more output, leaving enough room for positive reactions. Altogether, these results provide evidence consistent with a model of reciprocity, as opposed to inequality aversion.

Download Info

If 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.
File URL: http://www.iew.uzh.ch/wp/iewwp471.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 471.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision: Oct 2011
Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:471

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Blümlisalpstrasse 10, CH-8006 Zürich
Phone: +41-1-634 22 05
Fax: +41-1-634 49 07
Email:
Web page: http://www.econ.uzh.ch/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Morale; reciprocity; gift exchange; field experiment;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. James C. Cox & Daniel Friedman & Steven Gjerstad, 2006. "A Tractable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-05, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  2. 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.
  3. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
  4. Bruce Shearer, 2003. "Compensation Policy and Worker Performance: Identifying Incentive Effects from Field Experiments," Cahiers de recherche 0326, CIRPEE.
  5. John List & David Reiley, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Peter Howitt, 2002. "Looking Inside the Labor Market: A Review Article," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 125-138, March.
  7. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Charness, Gary B, 2004. "Attribution And Reciprocity In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8rp6b18c, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  11. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869, August.
  12. Alan Krueger & Alexandre Mas, 2002. "Strikes, Scabs and Tread Separations: Labor Strife and the Production of Defective Bridgestone/Firestone Tires," Working Papers 840, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
  14. Kolm,Serge-Christophe, 2009. "Reciprocity," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521123204, October.
  15. Bruce S. Shearer, 2003. "Compensation Policy and Worker Performance: Identifying Incentive Effects from Field Experiments," CIRANO Working Papers 2003s-45, CIRANO.
  16. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  17. Alan S. Blinder & Don H. Choi, 1989. "A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness," NBER Working Papers 3105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  19. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  20. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 235-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  22. Solow, Robert M., 1979. "Another possible source of wage stickiness," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 79-82.
  23. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 1986. "Wage Setting, Unemployment, and Insider-Outsider Relations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 235-39, May.
  24. Offerman, Theo, 2002. "Hurting hurts more than helping helps," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1423-1437, September.
  25. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  26. Shearer, Bruce, 2003. "Compensation Policy and Worker Performance: Identifying Incentive Effects from Field Experiments," Cahiers de recherche 0304, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  27. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and Contract Design," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 67, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  28. 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.
  29. Levine, David I, 1993. "Fairness, Markets, and Ability to Pay: Evidence from Compensation Executives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1241-59, December.
  30. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  31. Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Experimenter demand effects in economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 75-98, March.
  32. Alexandre Mas, 2006. "Pay, Reference Points, and Police Performance," NBER Working Papers 12202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  34. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  35. R. Lynn Hannan & John H. Kagel & Donald V. Moser, 2002. "Partial Gift Exchange in an Experimental Labor Market: Impact of Subject Population Differences, Productivity Differences, and Effort Requests on Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 923-951, October.
  36. Bruce Shearer, 2003. "Compensation Policy and Worker Performance: Identifying Incentive Effects From Field Experiments," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 503-511, 04/05.
  37. Daniel Kahneman & Jack L. Knetsch & Richard H. Thaler, 1991. "Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-206, Winter.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Hammermann, Andrea & Mohnen, Alwine, 2012. "Who Benefits from Benefits? Empirical Research on Tangible Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 6284, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Hedegaard, Morten & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2014. "The Price of Prejudice," CEPR Discussion Papers 9953, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Abeler, Johannes & Altmann, Steffen & Goerg, Sebastian & Kube, Sebastian & Wibral, Matthias, 2011. "Equity and Efficiency in Multi-Worker Firms: Insights from Experimental Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 5727, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim & Grechenig, Kristoffel, 2011. "A note on the optimality of (even more) incomplete strict liability," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 77-82, June.
  5. Charness, Gary & Masclet, David & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2013. "The Dark Side of Competition for Status," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3858888w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  6. Smith, Jennifer C, 2013. "Pay Growth, Fairness and Job Satisfaction : Implications for Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1009, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  7. repec:cge:warwcg:129 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Currie, Janet & Lin, Wanchuan & Meng, Juanjuan, 2013. "Social networks and externalities from gift exchange: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 19-30.
  9. Sabrina Jeworrek & Vanessa Mertins, 2014. "When Pay Increases are Not Enough: The Economic Value of Wage Delegation in the Field," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201408, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  10. Kube, Sebastian & Maréchal, Michel André & Puppe, Clemens, 2011. "The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace," Working Paper Series in Economics 25, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.
  11. David Masclet & Emmanuel Peterle & Sophie Larribeau, 2012. "Gender Differences in Competitive and Non Competitive Environments: An Experimental Evidence," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201236, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
  12. Florian Baumann & Tim Friehe & Kristoffel Grechenig, 2010. "Switching Consumers and Product Liability: On the Optimality of Incomplete Strict Liability," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_03, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  13. Matthieu Chemin & Joost DeLaat & André Kurmann, 2011. "Reciprocity in Labor Relations: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Long-Term Relationships," Cahiers de recherche 1127, CIRPEE.
  14. Florian Englmaier & Stephen G. Leider, 2012. "Managerial Payoff and Gift Exchange in the Field," CESifo Working Paper Series 3707, CESifo Group Munich.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:471. See general 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: (Marita Kieser).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.