IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/kap/expeco/v24y2021i3d10.1007_s10683-020-09686-4.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

In absence of money: a field experiment on volunteer work motivation

Author

Listed:
  • Vanessa Mertins

    (University of Vechta)

  • Christian Walter

    (University of Vechta)

Abstract

Although volunteers are a critical resource for non-profit organizations, little is known about how best to motivate them to work. A non-profit organization asked episodic volunteers to produce handmade greeting cards to sell at a fundraising event. By running a natural field experiment, we study the effect of motivating these volunteers through (a) the opportunity to vote on how the money that was raised would be spent and (b) the prospect of individual performance feedback. We find an economically and statistically significant positive effect of both tools on the quantity of work done, while the quality is mostly unaffected. Moreover, we observe significant gender differences in responsiveness to the treatments. While the prospect for feedback is more motivating to men, women respond more strongly to the opportunity to decide how the money would be spent. Empowerment seems to be a simple way to increase engagement for people with low enjoyment.

Suggested Citation

  • Vanessa Mertins & Christian Walter, 2021. "In absence of money: a field experiment on volunteer work motivation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 24(3), pages 952-984, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:24:y:2021:i:3:d:10.1007_s10683-020-09686-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-020-09686-4
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10683-020-09686-4
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1007/s10683-020-09686-4?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Azmat, Ghazala & Iriberri, Nagore, 2010. "The importance of relative performance feedback information: Evidence from a natural experiment using high school students," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(7-8), pages 435-452, August.
    2. Heinz, Matthias & Schumacher, Heiner, 2017. "Signaling cooperation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 199-216.
    3. John A. List & Azeem M. Shaikh & Yang Xu, 2019. "Multiple hypothesis testing in experimental economics," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(4), pages 773-793, December.
    4. Gary Charness & Ramon Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jimenez & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco Lagos, 2012. "The Hidden Advantage of Delegation: Pareto Improvements in a Gift Exchange Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2358-2379, August.
    5. Bandiera, Oriana & Larcinese, Valentino & Rasul, Imran, 2015. "Blissful ignorance? A natural experiment on the effect of feedback on students' performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 13-25.
    6. Meer, Jonathan, 2014. "Effects of the price of charitable giving: Evidence from an online crowdfunding platform," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 113-124.
    7. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough or Don't Pay at All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810.
    8. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, September.
    9. Ariely, Dan & Kamenica, Emir & Prelec, Drazen, 2008. "Man's search for meaning: The case of Legos," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(3-4), pages 671-677, September.
    10. Ziemek, Susanne, 2006. "Economic analysis of volunteers' motivations--A cross-country study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 532-555, June.
    11. Sabrina Jeworrek & Vanessa Mertins, 2019. "Wage delegation in the field," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(4), pages 656-669, November.
    12. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-555, March.
    13. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
    14. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2010. "Explaining the Gender Gap in Math Test Scores: The Role of Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 129-144, Spring.
    15. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Ruchala, Gabriele K., 2008. "Relative rewards within team-based compensation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 141-167, April.
    16. Christiane Bradler & Robert Dur & Susanne Neckermann & Arjan Non, 2016. "Employee Recognition and Performance: A Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3085-3099, November.
    17. Julian Conrads & Bernd Irlenbusch & Tommaso Reggiani & Rainer Michael Rilke & Dirk Sliwka, 2016. "How to hire helpers? Evidence from a field experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(3), pages 577-594, September.
    18. Alexander L. Brown & Jonathan Meer & J. Forrest Williams, 2019. "Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(4), pages 1455-1468, April.
    19. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    20. 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.
    21. Eriksson, Tor & Poulsen, Anders & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2009. "Feedback and incentives: Experimental evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 679-688, December.
    22. Jeworrek, Sabrina & Mertins, Vanessa, 2019. "Mission, motivation, and the active decision to work for a social cause," IWH Discussion Papers 10/2019, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    23. Chandler, Dana & Kapelner, Adam, 2013. "Breaking monotony with meaning: Motivation in crowdsourcing markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 123-133.
    24. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2009. "Time is not money," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 96-102, October.
    25. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2010. "Disentangling the sources of pro-socially motivated effort: A field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1086-1092, December.
    26. Michael Kosfeld & Susanne Neckermann & Xiaolan Yang, 2017. "The Effects Of Financial And Recognition Incentives Across Work Contexts: The Role Of Meaning," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(1), pages 237-247, January.
    27. Carl Mellström & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Crowding Out in Blood Donation: Was Titmuss Right?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 845-863, June.
    28. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2010. "Why volunteer? Evidence on the role of altruism, image, and incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 911-920, December.
    29. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
    30. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
    31. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
    32. Zacharias Maniadis & Fabio Tufano & John A. List, 2014. "One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer: Reply to Kataria," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 11(1), pages 11-16, January.
    33. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    34. David Burns & Jane Reid & Mark Toncar & Jeffrey Fawcett & Cynthia Anderson, 2006. "Motivations to volunteer: The role of altruism," International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, Springer;International Association of Public and Non-Profit Marketing, vol. 3(2), pages 79-91, December.
    35. Omar Al-Ubaydli & Min Lee, 2011. "Can Tailored Communications Motivate Environmental Volunteers? A Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 323-328, May.
    36. Omar Al-Ubaydli & Min Sok Lee, 2011. "Can Tailored Communications Motivate Volunteers? A Field Experiment," Working Papers 1023, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
    37. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Jack, B. Kelsey, 2014. "No margin, no mission? A field experiment on incentives for public service delivery," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 1-17.
    38. Agnes Bäker & Mario Mechtel, 2018. "The role of task meaning on output in groups: Experimental evidence," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(2), pages 131-141, March.
    39. Thomas Buser & Muriel Niederle & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2014. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Career Choices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1409-1447.
    40. Franke, Jörg & Gurtoviy, Ruslan & Mertins, Vanessa, 2016. "Workers’ participation in wage setting: A gift-exchange experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 151-162.
    41. John A. List, 2011. "Why Economists Should Conduct Field Experiments and 14 Tips for Pulling One Off," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 3-16, Summer.
    42. Jeffrey Carpenter & Erick Gong, 2016. "Motivating Agents: How Much Does the Mission Matter?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 211-236.
    43. Latifa Barbara & Gilles Grolleau & Naoufel Mzoughi, 2017. "Do You Prefer Having More or More than Others in the Workplace? A Quasi‐experimental Survey in Algeria," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 38(4), pages 595-606, June.
    44. Steven D. Levitt & Susanne Neckermann, 2014. "What field experiments have and have not taught us about managing workers," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 639-657.
    45. S. Bowles & S. Polania-Reyes., 2013. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    46. repec:feb:artefa:0110 is not listed on IDEAS
    47. Zacharias Maniadis & Fabio Tufano & John A. List, 2014. "One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer: New Evidence on Anchoring Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(1), pages 277-290, January.
    48. Adrian Chadi & Sabrina Jeworrek & Vanessa Mertins, 2017. "When the Meaning of Work Has Disappeared: Experimental Evidence on Employees’ Performance and Emotions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(6), pages 1696-1707, June.
    49. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
    50. Ghazala Azmat & Manuel Bagues & Antonio Cabrales & Nagore Iriberri, 2019. "What You Don’t Know…Can’t Hurt You? A Natural Field Experiment on Relative Performance Feedback in Higher Education," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(8), pages 3714-3736, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Debashish Sengupta & Dwa Al-Khalifa, 2022. "Motivations of Young Women Volunteers during COVID-19: A Qualitative Inquiry in Bahrain," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, vol. 12(2), pages 1-19, May.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Delavallade, Clara, 2021. "Motivating teams: Private feedback and public recognition at work," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 197(C).
    2. Vanessa, Mertins & Jeworrek, Sabrina & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2018. ""The Good News about Bad News": Feedback about Past Organisational Failure Bad ist Impact in Worker Productivity," VfS Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181644, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Greer K. Gosnell & John A. List & Robert Metcalfe, 2016. "A New Approach to an Age-Old Problem: Solving Externalities by Incenting Workers Directly," NBER Working Papers 22316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jeworrek, Sabrina & Mertins, Vanessa, 2019. "Mission, motivation, and the active decision to work for a social cause," IWH Discussion Papers 10/2019, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    5. Adrian Chadi & Sabrina Jeworrek & Vanessa Mertins, 2017. "When the Meaning of Work Has Disappeared: Experimental Evidence on Employees’ Performance and Emotions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(6), pages 1696-1707, June.
    6. Michael Kosfeld & Susanne Neckermann & Xiaolan Yang, 2017. "The Effects Of Financial And Recognition Incentives Across Work Contexts: The Role Of Meaning," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(1), pages 237-247, January.
    7. Luigino Bruni & Vittorio Pelligra & Tommaso Reggiani & Matteo Rizzolli, 2020. "The Pied Piper: Prizes, Incentives, and Motivation Crowding-in," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 166(3), pages 643-658, October.
    8. Julian Conrads & Bernd Irlenbusch & Tommaso Reggiani & Rainer Michael Rilke & Dirk Sliwka, 2016. "How to hire helpers? Evidence from a field experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(3), pages 577-594, September.
    9. Jeworrek, Sabrina & Mertins, Vanessa & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2018. ""The good news about bad news": Feedback about past organisational failure and its impact on worker productivity," IWH Discussion Papers 1/2018, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    10. Kosfeld, Michael & Neckermann, Susanne & Yang, Xiaolan, 2014. "Knowing that you matter, matters! The interplay of meaning, monetary incentives, and worker recognition," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-097, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    11. Anya Samek, 2019. "Gender Differences in Job Entry Decisions: A University-Wide Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(7), pages 3272-3281, July.
    12. Delavallade,Clara Anne, 2021. "Motivating Teams : Private Feedback and Public Recognition at Work," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9621, The World Bank.
    13. Sheheryar Banuri & Katarina Dankova & Philip Keefer, 2017. "It's not all fun and games: Feedback, task motivation, and effort," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 17-10, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    14. Linardi, Sera & McConnell, Margaret A., 2011. "No excuses for good behavior: Volunteering and the social environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 445-454.
    15. Lilley, Andrew & Slonim, Robert, 2014. "The price of warm glow," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 58-74.
    16. Alpízar, F. & Gsottbauer, E., 2015. "Reputation and household recycling practices: Field experiments in Costa Rica," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 366-375.
    17. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    18. Czibor, Eszter & Onderstal, Sander & Sloof, Randolph & van Praag, C. Mirjam, 2020. "Does relative grading help male students? Evidence from a field experiment in the classroom," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    19. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Jack, B. Kelsey, 2014. "No margin, no mission? A field experiment on incentives for public service delivery," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 1-17.
    20. Boyer, Pierre C. & Dwenger, Nadja & Rincke, Johannes, 2016. "Do norms on contribution behavior affect intrinsic motivation? Field-experimental evidence from Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 140-153.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Autonomy; Feedback; Field experiment; Motivation; Volunteering;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • L30 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - General
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:24:y:2021:i:3:d:10.1007_s10683-020-09686-4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.