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Gift exchange, control, and cyberloafing: A real-effort experiment

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  • Koch, Alexander K.
  • Nafziger, Julia

Abstract

Cyberloafing – non-work related internet use – is a prominent problem in modern firms. While incomplete contracts typically rule out direct control of workers’ effort, many employers hope to increase productivity through ‘soft’ control, by restricting the private use of internet at work. In a lab experiment with real effort, we investigate how the temptation of the internet and a manager's decision whether to restrict workers’ access to it affect the morale of workers. When tempted by internet access, workers reciprocate fair wages less than without access. Nevertheless, a manager's decision to actively grant internet access might increase workers’ effort: we find that highly reciprocal workers perceive the autonomy such a policy gives as a gift which they reciprocate with high effort despite the temptation of the internet. For less reciprocal workers the temptation aspect dominates and restricting internet access is better for the manager.

Suggested Citation

  • Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2016. "Gift exchange, control, and cyberloafing: A real-effort experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 409-426.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:131:y:2016:i:pa:p:409-426
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.09.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Temptation; Gift exchange; Hidden costs of control; Cyberloafing;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • 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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