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Awards - A View From Psychological Economics


  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Susanne Neckermann


Awards in the form of orders, decorations, prizes, and titles are ubiquitous in monarchies and republics, private organizations, not-for-profit, and profit-oriented firms. This paper argues that awards present a unique combination of different stimuli and that they are distinct and unlike other monetary and non-monetary rewards. Despite their relevance in all areas of life awards have not received much scientific attention. We propose to study awards and present results on a vignette experiment that quantifies and isolates the effects of different award characteristics such as the publicity associated with winning an award. Further, employing a unique data set, we demonstrate that there are substantial differences in the intensity of usage of awards across countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & Susanne Neckermann, 2008. "Awards - A View From Psychological Economics," CREMA Working Paper Series 2008-15, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2008-15

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Emmanuelle Auriol & Régis Renault, 2001. "Incentive Hierarchies," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 63-64, pages 261-282.
    3. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    4. 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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    7. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2004. "Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal-Agent Model," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 453-474, October.
    8. Bruno Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not Only What, but Also How Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 377-377, September.
    9. Victor A. Ginsburgh & Jan C. van Ours, 2003. "Expert Opinion and Compensation: Evidence from a Musical Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 289-296, March.
    10. Suvorov, Anton & van de Ven, Jeroen, 2009. "Discretionary rewards as a feedback mechanism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 665-681, November.
    11. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
    12. Bruno S. Frey & Susanne Neckermann, 2006. "Auszeichnungen: Ein vernachlässigter Anreiz," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7(2), pages 271-284, May.
    13. Waldfogel, Joel, 1993. "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1328-1336, December.
    14. Bruno S. Frey, 2005. "Knight Fever – Towards an Economics of Awards," CESifo Working Paper Series 1468, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
    16. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2005. "Grading in Games of Status: Marking Exams and Setting Wages," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1544, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Dec 2005.
    17. Fershtman, C. & Weiss, Y. & Hvide, H.K., 2001. "Status Concerns and the Organization of Work," Papers 2001-2, Tel Aviv.
    18. Brennan, Geoffrey & Pettit, Philip, 2004. "The Economy of Esteem: An Essay on Civil and Political Society," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199246489, June.
    19. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
    20. Bruno S. Frey, "undated". "Knight Fever towards an Economics of Awards," IEW - Working Papers 239, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    21. Loch, Christoph & Yaziji, Michael & Langen, Christian, 2001. "The fight for the alpha position:: Channeling status competition in organizations," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 16-25, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Greiff, Matthias & Paetzel, Fabian, 2016. "Second-order beliefs in reputation systems with endogenous evaluations – an experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 32-43.
    2. Sebastian Kube & Michel Andre Marechal & Clemens Puppe, 2012. "The Currency of Reciprocity: Gift Exchange in the Workplace," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1644-1662, June.
    3. Brinja Meiseberg, 2014. "Trust the artist versus trust the tale: performance implications of talent and self-marketing in folk music," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 38(1), pages 9-42, February.
    4. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Joeri Sol & Willem Verbeke, 2013. "Tournament Incentives in the Field: Gender Differences in the Workplace," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 305-326.
    5. Margit Osterloh & Bruno S. Frey, 2009. "Research Governance in Academia: Are there Alternatives to Academic Rankings?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-17, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    6. Bruno S. Frey & Susanne Neckermann, 2010. "Awards as Signals," CESifo Working Paper Series 3229, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Jack, B. Kelsey, 2014. "No margin, no mission? A field experiment on incentives for public service delivery," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 1-17.
    8. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Arjan Non & Willem Verbeke, 2015. "The Effects of Prize Spread and Noise in Elimination Tournaments: A Natural Field Experiment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(3), pages 521-569.
    9. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Jack, Kelsey, 2012. "No margin, no mission? A Field Experiment on Incentives for Pro-Social Tasks," CEPR Discussion Papers 8834, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Bruno S. Frey & Susanne Neckermann, 2013. "Awards play an important role," Chapters,in: Constitutional Economics and Public Institutions, chapter 17, pages 313-321 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Behavioral political economy: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 395-417.
    12. Bruno S. Frey, 2010. "Geld oder Anerkennung? Zur Ökonomik der Auszeichnungen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11(1), pages 1-15, February.
    13. Margit Osterloh & Bruno S. Frey, 2010. "Academic rankings and research governance," IEW - Working Papers 482, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    14. Bruno S. Frey & Susanne Neckermann, 2013. "Prizes and awards," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise, chapter 27, pages 271-276 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    15. Thomas Ehrmann & Brinja Meiseberg & Christian Ritz, 2009. "Superstar Effects in Deluxe Gastronomy - An Empirical Analysis of Value Creation in German Quality Restaurants," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 526-541, November.
    16. Louis Jaeck & Gilbert Bougi, 2010. "Dynamics of Environmental Regulation and Voters’ Biased Beliefs: A Political Economy Approach," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 38(4), pages 399-409, December.
    17. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2014. "Behavioral public choice: A survey," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/03, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    18. Neckermann, Susanne & Frey, Bruno S., 2013. "And the winner is…? The motivating power of employee awards," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 66-77.
    19. Pitsoulis, Athanassios & Schnellenbach, Jan, 2012. "On property rights and incentives in academic publishing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1440-1447.
    20. repec:spr:scient:v:104:y:2015:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-015-1613-7 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Awards; compensation; incentives; principal-agent; honors and distinctions;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • 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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