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Peer Pressure and Productivity: The Role of Observing and Being Observed

  • Sotiris Georganas
  • Mirco Tonin
  • Michael Vlassopoulos

Peer effects arise in situations where workers observe each others’ work activity. In this paper we disentangle the effect of observing a peer from that of being observed by a peer, by setting up a real effort experiment in which we manipulate the observability of performance. In particular, we randomize subjects into three groups: in the first one subjects are observed by another subject, but do not observe anybody; in the second one subjects observe somebody else’s performance, but are not observed by anybody; in the last group subjects work in isolation, neither observing, nor being observed. We consider both a piece rate compensation scheme, where pay depends solely on own performance, and a team compensation scheme, where pay also depends on the performance of other team members. Overall, we find some evidence that subjects who are observed increase productivity at least initially when compensation is team based, while we find that subjects observing react to what they see when compensation is based only on own performance.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4572.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4572
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2002. "Do workers work more if wages are high? Evidence from a randomized field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00240, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria, 2013. "A Novel Computerized Real Effort Task Based on Sliders," MPRA Paper 48081, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria, 2012. "Gender differences and dynamics in competition: the role of luck," MPRA Paper 38220, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Victoria Prowse & David Gill, 2009. "A Structural Analysis of Disappointment Aversion in a Real Effort Competition," Economics Series Working Papers 448, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2004. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000439, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," Cahiers de recherche 1320, CIRPEE.
  8. Jordi Blanes i Vidal & Mareike Nossol, 2011. "Tournaments Without Prizes: Evidence from Personnel Records," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(10), pages 1721-1736, October.
  9. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  10. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Joeri Sol & Willem Verbeke, 2009. "Tournament Incentives in the Field: Gender Differences in the Workplace," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-069/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 20 Apr 2012.
  11. Eriksson, Tor & Poulsen, Anders & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2008. "Feedback and Incentives: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 3440, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Papers 90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  13. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  14. Philip Babcock & Kelly Bedard & Gary Charness & John Hartman & Heather Royer, 2011. "Letting Down the Team? Evidence of Social Effects of Team Incentives," NBER Working Papers 16687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán González & Stephen Rassenti, 2013. "Peer Pressure and Moral Hazard in Teams: Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 13-01, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  16. Camerer, Colin & Babcock, Linda & Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard, 1996. "Labor Supply of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day At A time," Working Papers 960, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  17. Charles Bellemare & Patrick Lepage & Bruce Shearer, 2009. "Peer Pressure, Incentives, and Gender: an Experimental Analysis of Motivation in the Workplace," Cahiers de recherche 0901, CIRPEE.
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