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Peers at work: Evidence from the lab

Author

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  • Roel van Veldhuizen
  • Hessel Oosterbeek
  • Joep Sonnemans

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a lab experiment designed to study the role of observability for peer effects in the setting of a simple production task. In our experiment, participants in the role of workers engage in a team real-effort task. We vary whether they can observe, or be observed by, one of their co-workers. In contrast to earlier findings from the field, we find no evidence that low-productivity workers perform better when they are observed by high-productivity co-workers. Instead, our results imply that peer effects in our experiment are heterogeneous, with some workers reciprocating a high-productivity co-worker but others taking the opportunity to free ride.

Suggested Citation

  • Roel van Veldhuizen & Hessel Oosterbeek & Joep Sonnemans, 2018. "Peers at work: Evidence from the lab," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(2), pages 1-15, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0192038
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192038
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," Cahiers de recherche 1320, CIRPEE.
    2. Alwine Mohnen & Kathrin Pokorny & Dirk Sliwka, 2008. "Transparency, Inequity Aversion, and the Dynamics of Peer Pressure in Teams: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(4), pages 693-720, October.
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    4. de Haan, Thomas & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2015. "Willpower depletion and framing effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 47-61.
    5. van Dijk, Frans & Sonnemans, Joep & van Winden, Frans, 2001. "Incentive systems in a real effort experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 187-214, February.
    6. Georganas, Sotiris & Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2015. "Peer pressure and productivity: The role of observing and being observed," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 223-232.
    7. 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.
    8. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," Cahiers de recherche 1320, CIRPEE.
    9. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
    10. Rupert Sausgruber, 2009. "A note on peer effects between teams," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(2), pages 193-201, June.
    11. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social network and peer effects at work," Post-Print halshs-00856053, HAL.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gerhards, Leonie & Gravert, Christina, 2020. "Because of you I did not give up – Peer effects in perseverance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    2. Graff, Frederik & Grund, Christian & Harbring, Christine, 2018. "Competing on the Holodeck: The Effect of Virtual Peers and Heterogeneity in Dynamic Tournaments," IZA Discussion Papers 11919, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Beugnot, Julie & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2019. "Gender and peer effects on performance in social networks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 207-224.
    4. Graff, Frederik & Grund, Christian & Harbring, Christine, 2021. "Competing on the Holodeck - The effect of virtual peers and heterogeneity in dynamic tournaments," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    5. Jiang, Lingqing, 2020. "Splash with a teammate: Peer effects in high-stakes tournaments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 165-188.
    6. Gürerk, Özgür & Bönsch, Andrea & Kittsteiner, Thomas & Staffeldt, Andreas, 2019. "Virtual humans as co-workers: A novel methodology to study peer effects," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 17-29.
    7. Albert, Philipp & Kübler, Dorothea & Silva-Goncalves, Juliana, 2019. "Peer Effects of Ambition," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 148, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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