IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The Currency of Reciprocity: Gift Exchange in the Workplace

  • Sebastian Kube
  • Michel Andre Marechal
  • Clemens Puppe

What determines reciprocity in employment relations? We conducted a controlled field experiment to measure the extent to which monetary and nonmonetary gifts affect workers' performance. We find that nonmonetary gifts have a much stronger impact than monetary gifts of equivalent value. We also observe that when workers are offered the choice, they prefer receiving money, but reciprocate as if they received a nonmonetary gift. This result is consistent with the common saying, "it's the thought that counts." We underline this point by showing that monetary gifts can effectively trigger reciprocity if the employer invests more time and effort into the gift's presentation.

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.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.102.4.1644
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/june2012/20100161_data.zip
File Function: dataset accompanying article
Download Restriction: no

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (June)
Pages: 1644-62

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:4:p:1644-62
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aer/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: https://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html

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. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Bettina Rockenbach & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2010. "In Search Of Workers' Real Effort Reciprocity-A Field and a Laboratory Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 817-837, 06.
  3. Prendergast, Canice & Stole, Lars, 2001. "The non-monetary nature of gifts," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1793-1810, December.
  4. 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.
  5. Lee Cronbach, 1951. "Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 16(3), pages 297-334, September.
  6. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2007. "Reputations, Relationships, and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 595-628, September.
  7. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  8. Robert Gibbons, 1998. "Incentives in Organizations," NBER Working Papers 6695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Sebastian Kube & Michel André Maréchal & Clemens Puppe, 2013. "Do Wage Cuts Damage Work Morale? Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 853-870, 08.
  10. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000143, David K. Levine.
  11. Anthony M. Marino & Ján Zábojník, 2008. "A Rent Extraction View of Employee Discounts and Benefits," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 485-518, 07.
  12. Charles Bellemare, 2007. "Gift exchange within a firm: Evidence from a field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00215, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. 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.
  14. Carmichael, H Lorne & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1997. "Gift Giving and the Evolution of Cooperation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(3), pages 485-509, August.
  15. 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.
  16. Michael Kosfeld & Susanne Neckermann, 2011. "Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 86-99, August.
  17. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883, March.
  18. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  19. Steven Levitt & John List, 2007. "What do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World," Artefactual Field Experiments 00480, The Field Experiments Website.
  20. Waldfogel, Joel, 1993. "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1328-36, December.
  21. 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.
  22. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  23. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  24. Adriana D. Kugler & Gilles Saint-Paul, 2004. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Worker Flows in a World with Adverse Selection?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 553-584, July.
  25. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough or Don't Pay at All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810.
  26. Bruno S. Frey & Susanne Neckermann, 2008. "Awards - A View from Psychological Economics," CREMA Working Paper Series 2008-02, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  27. Webley, P. & Lea, S. E. G. & Portalska, R., 1983. "The unacceptability of money as a gift," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 223-238.
  28. Cox, J. & Friedman, D. & Gjerstad, S., 2006. "A Trackable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1181, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  29. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  30. Burgoyne, Carole B. & Routh, David A., 1991. "Constraints on the use of money as a gift at Christmas: the role of status and intimacy," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 47-69, March.
  31. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S285-300, October.
  32. Gary Charness & Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel, 2004. "How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 7(2), pages 189-205, 06.
  33. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2004. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 747-780, 05.
  34. Rajan, Raghuram G. & Wulf, Julie, 2006. "Are perks purely managerial excess?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 1-33, January.
  35. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  36. Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2012. "Personnel Economics," Introductory Chapters, in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
  37. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix & Eichenberger, Reiner, 1996. "The Old Lady Visits Your Backyard: A Tale of Morals and Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1297-1313, December.
  38. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
  39. 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.
  40. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. The Currency of Reciprocity: Gift Exchange in the Workplace (AER 2012) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:4:p:1644-62. 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: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.