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Competitive Work Environments and Social Preferences: Field Experimental Evidence from a Japanese Fishing Community

  • Carpenter, Jeffrey P.


    (Middlebury College)

  • Seki, Erika


    (University of Aberdeen)

Models of job tournaments and competitive workplaces more generally predict that while individual effort may increase as competition intensifies between workers, the incentive for workers to cooperate with each other diminishes. We report on a field experiment conducted with workers from a fishing community in Toyama Bay, Japan. Our participants are employed in three different aspects of fishing. The first group are fishermen, the second group are fish wholesalers (or traders), and the third group are staff at the local fishing coop. Although our participants have much in common (e.g., their common relationship to the local fishery and the fact that they all live in the same community), we argue that they are exposed to different amounts of competition on-the-job and that these differences explain differences in cooperation in our experiment. Specifically, fishermen and traders, who interact in more competitive environments are significantly less cooperative than the coop staff who face little competition on the job. Further, after accounting for the possibility of personality-based selection, perceptions of competition faced on-the-job and the treatment effect of job incentives explain these differences in cooperation to a large extent.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1691.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy: Contributions to Economic Analysis and Policy, 2006, 5 (2), Article 2
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1691
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  1. John O. Ledyard, 1994. "Public Goods: A Survey of Experimental Research," Public Economics 9405003, EconWPA, revised 22 May 1994.
  2. Kong-Pin Chen, 2003. "Sabotage in Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 119-140, April.
  3. Rafael Rob & Peter Zemsky, 2002. "Social Capital, Corporate Culture, and Incentive Intensity," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(2), pages 243-257, Summer.
  4. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  5. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 366-380, March.
  6. Imran Rasul & John List, 2010. "Field experiments in labor economics," Artefactual Field Experiments 00092, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Jeffrey Carpenter & Stephen Burks & Lorenz Götte, 2006. "Performance Pay and the Erosion of Worker Cooperation: Field experimental evidence," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0603, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  8. Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2005. "Endogenous Social Preferences," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 37(1), pages 63-84, March.
  9. Amrita Daniere & Jeff Carpenter & Lois Takahashi, 2004. "Cooperation, trust, and social capital in southeast asian urban slums," Artefactual Field Experiments 00035, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  11. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  12. Bénédicte Vidaillet & V. D'Estaintot & P. Abécassis, 2005. "Introduction," Post-Print hal-00287137, HAL.
  13. Drago, Robert & Garvey, Gerald T, 1998. "Incentives for Helping on the Job: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-25, January.
  14. Glenn Harrison & Jeff Carpenter & John List, 2005. "Field experiments in economics: An introduction," Artefactual Field Experiments 00034, The Field Experiments Website.
  15. Seki, Erika, 2006. "Effects of rotation scheme on fishing behaviour with price discrimination and limited durability: Theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 106-135, June.
  16. Jeffrey Carpenter & Erika Seki, 2011. "Do Social Preferences Increase Productivity? Field Experimental Evidence From Fishermen In Toyama Bay," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(2), pages 612-630, 04.
  17. John List, 2004. "Young, selfish, and male: Field evidence of social preferences," Natural Field Experiments 00298, The Field Experiments Website.
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