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Worker Responses to Shirking under Shared Capitalism

In: Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit and Gain Sharing, and Broad-based Stock Options

  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Douglas L. Kruse
  • Joseph R. Blasi

Group incentive systems have to overcome the free rider or 1/N problem, which gives workers an incentive to shirk, if they are to succeed. This paper uses new questions on responses to shirking from the General Social Survey and a special NBER survey of workers at over 300 worksites in 14 companies that have some form of group incentive pay to examine how well workers can monitor their peers and what they do when the peers are not working up to speed. The paper finds that: 1) most workers say that they can detect fellow employees who shirk; 2) many report that they would speak to the shirker or report the behavior or a supervisor, and many report that they did so in the past; 3) the proportion that takes action against shirkers is greatest among workers paid under group incentive systems, in smaller companies, and in companies with good employee-management relations; 4) group incentives interact with high-performance human resource policies such as employee involvement teams, training, task variety, low levels of supervision, and good fixed wages to induce more workers to act against shirking; 5) workers in workplaces where there is more anti-shirking behavior report that co-workers work harder, encourage other workers more, and report that their workplace facility is more effective in ways that should raise productivity and profits.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Douglas L. Kruse & Richard B. Freeman & Joseph R. Blasi, 2010. "Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit and Gain Sharing, and Broad-based Stock Options," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number krus08-1, 07.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 8087.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8087
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "Punishing free-riders: How group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 31-51, July.
    2. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    3. Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Papers 90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
    4. Leigh Tesfatsion, 2002. "Agent-Based Computational Economics," Computational Economics 0203001, EconWPA, revised 15 Aug 2002.
    5. Hirshlifer, David & Rassmusen, Eric, 1989. "Cooperation in a repeated prisoners' dilemma with ostracism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 87-106, August.
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    8. Douglas L. Kruse, 1993. "Profit Sharing: Does It Make a Difference?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number ps, November.
    9. Michael Prietula & Kathleen Carley & Les Gasser (ed.), 1998. "Simulating Organizations: Computational Models of Institutions and Groups," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026266108x, June.
    10. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
    11. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
    12. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    13. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Folk Theorem in Repeated Games with Discounting or with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 533-54, May.
    14. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1973. "The Economics of Group Practice," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(1), pages 37-56.
    15. Gaynor, Martin & Pauly, Mark V, 1990. "Compensation and Productive Efficiency of Partnerships: Evidence from Medical Group Practice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 544-73, June.
    16. Craig, Ben & Pencavel, John, 1992. "The Behavior of Worker Cooperatives: The Plywood Companies of the Pacific Northwest," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1083-105, December.
    17. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
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