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Responsibility-Alleviation and Other-Regarding Preferences with Peer Workers in Labor Markets: An Experimental Investigation

  • Mark Owens


A peer worker is introduced in a controlled labor market experiment characterized by unobservable effort and incomplete contracts. Workers make decisions independently and without knowledge of each other’s actions in a modified gift exchange experiment. Introducing a peer worker into an ongoing market has a negative and significant effect on effort. This decrease in effort is consistent with responsibility-alleviation on the part of employees and not with other-regarding equity concerns for the manager’s payoffs. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Labor Research.

Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 353-369

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Handle: RePEc:spr:jlabre:v:33:y:2012:i:3:p:353-369
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Charness, Gary B, 1999. "Responsibility And Effort In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt7x98w91h, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. Charness, Gary B, 2004. "Attribution And Reciprocity In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8rp6b18c, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. R. M. Isaac & J. M. Walker, 2010. "Group size effects in public goods provision: The voluntary contribution mechanism," Levine's Working Paper Archive 310, David K. Levine.
  5. Sandra Maximiano & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2004. "Gift Exchange in a Multi-worker Firm," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-100/1, Tinbergen Institute.
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  7. R. Lynn Hannan & John H. Kagel & Donald V. Moser, 2002. "Partial Gift Exchange in an Experimental Labor Market: Impact of Subject Population Differences, Productivity Differences, and Effort Requests on Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 923-951, October.
  8. Abeler, Johannes & Altmann, Steffen & Kube, Sebastian & Wibral, Matthias, 2009. "Gift Exchange and Workers' Fairness Concerns: When Equality Is Unfair," IZA Discussion Papers 4262, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Andreoni, James, 2007. "Giving gifts to groups: How altruism depends on the number of recipients," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(9), pages 1731-1749, September.
  10. Owens, Mark F. & Kagel, John H., 2010. "Minimum wage restrictions and employee effort in incomplete labor markets: An experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 317-326, March.
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