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Economic stability promotes gift-exchange in the workplace

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  • Bejarano, Hernán
  • Corgnet, Brice
  • Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín

Abstract

We extend Akerlof’s (1982) gift-exchange model to the case in which reference wages respond to changes in economic conditions. Our model shows that these changes spur disagreements between workers and employers regarding the reference wage. These disagreements tend to weaken the gift-exchange relationship, thus reducing production levels and wages. We find support for these predictions in a controlled yet realistic workplace environment. Our work also sheds light on several stylized facts regarding employment relationships, such as the increased intensity of labor conflicts when economic conditions are unstable.

Suggested Citation

  • Bejarano, Hernán & Corgnet, Brice & Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín, 2021. "Economic stability promotes gift-exchange in the workplace," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 374-398.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:187:y:2021:i:c:p:374-398
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.04.033
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gift-exchange; Incentives; Self-serving biases; Reference-dependent utility; Laboratory experiments; Labor conflicts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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