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Gift Exchange in the Lab - It is not (only) how much you give ..

  • Florian Englmaier
  • Stephen G. Leider

An important aspect in determining the effectiveness of gift exchange relations in labor markets is the ability of the worker to “repay the gift” to the employer. To test this hypothesis, we conduct a real effort laboratory experiment where we vary the wage and the effect of the worker’s effort on the manager’s payoff. Furthermore we collect additional information that allows us to control for the workers’ ability and whether they can be classified as reciprocal or not. From our agency model of reciprocal motivation we derive non-trivial predictions about which is the marginal worker (in terms of ability) affected by our experimental variation and how different types of individuals, selfish and reciprocal, will react to it. Our model does substantially better than other theories in organizing the data.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2944.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2944
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  1. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Sliwka, Dirk, 2003. "Transparency and Reciprocal Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 887, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  3. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Sliwka, Dirk, 2005. "Transparency and reciprocal behavior in employment relations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 383-403, March.
  6. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2008. "Reciprocity in Experimental Markets," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  7. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  10. David H. Autor & David Scarborough, 2008. "Does Job Testing Harm Minority Workers? Evidence from Retail Establishments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 219-277, 02.
  11. Armin Falk, 2007. "Gift Exchange in the Field," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(5), pages 1501-1511, 09.
  12. Englmaier, Florian & Leider, Stephen, 2012. "Contractual and organizational structure with reciprocal agents," Munich Reprints in Economics 22010, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  13. Sandra Maximiano & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2007. "Gift Exchange in a Multi-Worker Firm," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 1025-1050, 07.
  14. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000143, David K. Levine.
  15. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
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