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Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance

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  • Michael Kosfeld
  • Susanne Neckermann

Abstract

We study the impact of status and social recognition on worker performance in a field experiment. In collaboration with an international non-governmental organization, we hired students to work on a database project. Students in the award treatment were offered a congratulatory card honoring the best performance. The award was purely symbolic to ensure that any behavioral effect is driven by non-material benefits. Our results show that the award increases performance by about 12 percent on average. The results provide strong evidence for the motivating power of status and social recognition in labor relations. (JEL C93, J33, M12, M52)

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:3:y:2011:i:3:p:86-99 Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.3.3.86
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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