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Putting reciprocity to work - positive versus negative responses in the field

  • Michel Marechal
  • Puppe Clemens
  • Sebastian Kube

We study the role of reciprocity in a labor market field experiment. In a recent paper, Gneezy and List (2006) investigate the impact of gift exchange in this context and find that it has only a transient effect on long run outcomes. Extending their work to examine both positive and negative reciprocity, we find consonant evidence in the positive reciprocity condition: the gift does not work well in the long run (if at all). Yet, in the negative reciprocity treatment we observe much stronger effects: a wage reduction has a significant and lasting negative impact on efforts. Together, these results highlight the asymmetry of positive and negative reciprocity that exists in the field, and provide an indication of the relative importance of each in the long run.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00291.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00291
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  2. James C. Cox & Daniel Friedman & Steven Gjerstad, 2006. "A Tractable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-05, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  3. Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Bettina Rockenbach & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2010. "In Search Of Workers' Real Effort Reciprocity-A Field and a Laboratory Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 817-837, 06.
  4. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  6. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1988. "Fairness and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 44-49, May.
  7. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
  8. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. John A. List, 2006. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-37, February.
  10. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  11. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  12. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  13. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  14. Pereira, Paulo T. & Silva, Nuno & Silva, Joao Andrade e, 2006. "Positive and negative reciprocity in the labor market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 406-422, March.
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