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Pay Enough or Don't Pay at All

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  • Uri Gneezy
  • Aldo Rustichini

Abstract

Economists usually assume that monetary incentives improve performance, and psychologists claim that the opposite may happen. We present and discuss a set of experiments designed to test these contrasting claims. We found that the effect of monetary compensation on performance was not monotonic. In the treatments in which money was offered, a larger amount yielded a higher performance. However, offering money did not always produce an improvement: subjects who were offered monetary incentives performed more poorly than those who were offered no compensation. Several possible interpretations of the results are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:791-810.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/003355300554917
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
    2. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-755, September.
    3. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-955, December.
    4. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    5. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix & Eichenberger, Reiner, 1996. "The Old Lady Visits Your Backyard: A Tale of Morals and Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1297-1313, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics

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