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Smarter Task Assignment or Greater Effort: The Impact of Incentives on Team Performance

Author

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  • Simon Burgess
  • Carol Propper
  • Marisa Ratto
  • StephanievonHinke KesslerScholder
  • Emma Tominey

Abstract

We use an experiment to study the impact of team-based incentives, exploiting rich data from personnel records and management information systems. Using a triple difference design, we show that the incentive scheme had an impact on team performance, even with quite large teams. We examine whether this effect was due to increased effort from workers or strategic task reallocation. We find that the provision of financial incentives did raise individual performance but that managers also disproportionately reallocated efficient workers to the incentivised tasks. We show that this reallocation was the more important contributor to the overall outcome. Copyright © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Burgess & Carol Propper & Marisa Ratto & StephanievonHinke KesslerScholder & Emma Tominey, 2010. "Smarter Task Assignment or Greater Effort: The Impact of Incentives on Team Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(547), pages 968-989, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:120:y:2010:i:547:p:968-989
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Encinosa III, William E. & Gaynor, Martin & Rebitzer, James B., 2007. "The sociology of groups and the economics of incentives: Theory and evidence on compensation systems," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 187-214, February.
    2. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-817, August.
    3. Simon Burgess & Carol Propper & Marisa Ratto & Emma Tominey, 2004. "Incentives in the Public Sector: Evidence from a Government Agency," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 04/103, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    4. Knez, Marc & Simester, Duncan, 2001. "Firm-Wide Incentives and Mutual Monitoring at Continental Airlines," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(4), pages 743-772, October.
    5. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
    6. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    7. Gaynor, Martin & Pauly, Mark V, 1990. "Compensation and Productive Efficiency of Partnerships: Evidence from Medical Group Practice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 544-573, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guido Friebel & Matthias Heinz & Miriam Krueger & Nikolay Zubanov, 2017. "Team Incentives and Performance: Evidence from a Retail Chain," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(8), pages 2168-2203, August.
    2. Simon Burgess & Carol Propper & Marisa Ratto & Emma Tominey, 2004. "Incentives in the Public Sector: Evidence from a Government Agency," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 04/103, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    3. Fichera, Eleonora & Banks, James & Siciliani, Luigi & Sutton, Matt, 2017. "Does Patient Health Behaviour respond to Doctor’s Effort?," Department of Economics Working Papers 58124, University of Bath, Department of Economics.
    4. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Souverijn, Michiel, 2017. "Team Incentives, Task Assignment, and Performance: A Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 11228, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Bloom, Nicholas & Van Reenen, John, 2011. "Human Resource Management and Productivity," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    6. Broszeit, Sandra & Fritsch, Ursula & Görg, Holger & Laible, Marie-Christine, 2016. "Management Practices and Productivity in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 10370, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Marisa Ratto & Emma Tominey & Thibaud Vergé, 2017. "Team Structure and the Effectiveness of Collective Performance Pay," Working Papers hal-01653609, HAL.
    8. Frederico Finan & Benjamin A. Olken & Rohini Pande, 2015. "The Personnel Economics of the State," NBER Working Papers 21825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Hasnain, Zahid & Manning, Nick & Pierskalla Henryk, 2012. "Performance-related pay in the public sector : a review of theory and evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6043, The World Bank.
    10. Koch, Michael & Egger, Hartmut, 2013. "Trade and the Firm-Internal Allocation of Workers to Tasks," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79841, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. Simon M. Burgess & Carol Propper & Marisa Ratto & Emma Tominey, 2017. "Incentives in the Public Sector: Evidence from a Government Agency," Post-Print hal-01651132, HAL.
    12. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12064 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12197 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Gall, Thomas & Hu, Xiaocheng & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2016. "Dynamic Incentive Effects of Team Formation: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 10393, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Broszeit, Sandra & Fritsch, Ursula & Görg, Holger & Laible, Marie-Christine, 2016. "Management practices and productivity in Germany (Managementpraktiken und Produktivität in Deutschland)," IAB Discussion Paper 201632, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    16. Broszeit, Sandra & Fritsch, Ursula & Görg, Holger & Laible, Marie-Christine, 2016. "Management practices and productivity in Germany," Kiel Working Papers 2050, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    17. David J. Deming, 2015. "The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 21473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Ana-Maria Godeanu, 2012. "The antecedents of satisfaction with pay in teams: do performance-based compensation and autonomy keep team-members satisfied?," Eastern Journal of European Studies, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 3, pages 145-168, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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