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Pro-social missions and worker motivation: An experimental study

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  • Fehrler, Sebastian
  • Kosfeld, Michael

Abstract

Do employees work harder if their job has the right mission? In a laboratory labor market experiment, we test whether subjects provide higher effort if they can choose the mission of their job. We observe that subjects do not provide higher effort than in a control treatment. Surprised by this finding, we run a second experiment in which subjects can choose whether they want to work on a job with their preferred mission or not. A subgroup of agents (roughly one third) is willing to do so even if this option is more costly than choosing the alternative job. Moreover, we find that these subjects provide substantially higher effort. These results suggest that some workers can be motivated by missions and that selection into mission-oriented organizations is an important factor to explain empirical findings of lower wages and high motivation in these organizations.

Suggested Citation

  • Fehrler, Sebastian & Kosfeld, Michael, 2014. "Pro-social missions and worker motivation: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 99-110.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:100:y:2014:i:c:p:99-110
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2014.01.010
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Motivation; Sorting; Labor; Effort; Organization; Non-monetary incentives; NGOs;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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