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Social Preferences or Personal Career Concerns? Field Evidence on Positive and Negative Reciprocity in the Workplace

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  • Leif Brandes

    (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Egon Franck

    (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

Abstract

This paper provides non-experimental field evidence on positive and negative worker reciprocity. We analyze the performance reactions of professional workers to fair and unfair wage allocations in their natural environment. The objects of interest are professional soccer players in the German Bundesliga. This environment enables us to circumvent the main problems of observational studies on reciprocity because there is substantial transparency in individual player values and performance. Our main finding is that workers exhibit both positive and negative reciprocity toward employers who deviate from a playerÕs perception of a fair market wage. This perception of a fair wage follows from a Mincer-type wage equation that incorporates a workerÕs past performance. The different results between changing and non-changing players are in line with theories of fairness perception but cannot be explained by private information from the employers or the personal career concerns of the players. Altogether, our findings provide strong evidence for the external validity of previous laboratory results on gift exchange in the labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • Leif Brandes & Egon Franck, 2010. "Social Preferences or Personal Career Concerns? Field Evidence on Positive and Negative Reciprocity in the Workplace," Working Papers 0134, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU), revised May 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:wpaper:0134
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    2. Martina Pieperhoff, 2018. "Reziprozität in interorganisationalen Austauschbeziehungen - eine Typologisierung," ZfKE – Zeitschrift für KMU und Entrepreneurship, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 66(4), pages 273-287.
    3. Bicskei, Marianna & Lankau, Matthias & Bizer, Kilian, 2014. "Negative reciprocity and its relation to anger-like emotions in homogeneous and heterogeneous groups," University of Göttingen Working Papers in Economics 203, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    4. Bicskei, Marianna & Lankau, Matthias & Bizer, Kilian, 2016. "Negative reciprocity and its relation to anger-like emotions in identity-homogeneous and -heterogeneous groups," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 17-34.
    5. Gago, Andrés, 2021. "Reciprocity and uncertainty: When do people forgive?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    6. Müller, Oliver & Simons, Alexander & Weinmann, Markus, 2017. "Beyond crowd judgments: Data-driven estimation of market value in association football," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 263(2), pages 611-624.
    7. Herm, Steffen & Callsen-Bracker, Hans-Markus & Kreis, Henning, 2014. "When the crowd evaluates soccer players’ market values: Accuracy and evaluation attributes of an online community," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 484-492.
    8. Martina Pieperhoff, 2018. "The Explanatory Power of Reciprocal Behavior for the Inter-Organizational Exchange Context," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(6), pages 1-18, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Reciprocity; Fairness; Gift-Exchange; Job Change;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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