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Motivating Agents: How Much Does the Mission Matter?

Author

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  • Jeffrey Carpenter
  • Erick Gong

Abstract

Economic theory predicts that agents work harder if they believe in the mission of the organization. We conduct a real-effort experiment with workers whose mission preferences are known, randomly assigning them to organizations with clear missions to create both matches and mismatches. Our estimates suggest that matching is a strong motivator, especially compared to mismatches. Further, we find that performance pay increases effort, though mostly among mismatched workers who substitute pay for matching. Our results suggest the importance of defining a clear mission to an organization and highlight the significance of sorting, screening, and compensation policies.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/682345
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    1. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:1:p:237-247 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Dur, Robert & van Lent, Max, 2018. "Serving the public interest in several ways: Theory and empirics," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 13-24.
    3. Robert Dur & Max van Lent, 2018. "Socially Useless Jobs," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-034/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. repec:eee:eecrev:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:199-216 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2013. "Intrinsic motivation, effort and the call to public service," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6729, The World Bank.
    6. Sheheryar Banuri & Philip Keefer & Damien de Walque, 2017. "Love the job... or the patient? Task vs. mission-based motiviations in healthcare," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 17-09, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    7. Lea Cassar, 2014. "Optimal contracting with endogenous project mission," ECON - Working Papers 150, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Oct 2014.
    8. Robin Zoutenbier, 2014. "The Impact of Matching Mission Preferences on Well-being at Work," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-036/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Robin Zoutenbier, 2016. "The impact of matching mission preferences on well-being at work," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 295-315, August.
    10. Lea Cassar, 2014. "Job mission as a substitute for monetary incentives: experimental evidence," ECON - Working Papers 177, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    11. repec:eme:rexezz:s0193-230620160000019004 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. 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 - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    13. 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.
    14. Cardella, Eric & Depew, Briggs, 2016. "Testing for the Ratchet Effect: Evidence from a Real-Effort Work Task," IZA Discussion Papers 9981, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2016. "Pro-social motivation, effort and the call to public service," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 139-164.
    16. Carpenter, Jeffrey, 2016. "The labor supply of fixed-wage workers: Estimates from a real effort experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 85-95.
    17. Sheheryar Banuri & Philip Keefer, 2016. "Mellowing with Tenure? Socialization Increases Prosocial Behavior in Public Organizations," Research in Experimental Economics,in: Experiments in Organizational Economics, volume 19, pages 127-140 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    18. Max van Lent, 2017. "Increasing the Well-Being of Others On-the-Job and Outside the Workplace," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-061/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    19. repec:eee:gamebe:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:182-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. 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).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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