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Interactions Between Workers and the Technology of Production: Evidence from Professional Baseball

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  • Gould, Eric D.

    () (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

  • Winter, Eyal

    () (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

Abstract

This paper examines how the effort choices of workers within the same firm interact with each other. In contrast to the existing literature, we show that workers can affect the productivity of their co-workers based on income maximization considerations, rather than relying on behavioral considerations such as peer pressure, social norms, and shame. Theoretically, we show that a worker’s effort has a positive effect on the effort of co-workers if they are complements in production, and a negative effect if they are substitutes. The theory is tested using panel data on the performance of baseball players from 1970 to 2003. The empirical analysis shows that a player’s batting average significantly increases with the batting performance of his peers, but decreases with the quality of the team’s pitching. Furthermore, a pitcher’s performance increases with the pitching quality of his teammates, but is unaffected by the batting output of the team. These results are inconsistent with behavioral explanations which predict that shirking by any kind of worker will increase shirking by all fellow workers. The results are consistent with the idea that the effort choices of workers interact in ways that are dependent on the technology of production. These findings are robust to controlling for individual fixed-effects, and to using changes in the composition of one’s co-workers in order to produce exogenous variation in the performance of one’s peers.

Suggested Citation

  • Gould, Eric D. & Winter, Eyal, 2007. "Interactions Between Workers and the Technology of Production: Evidence from Professional Baseball," IZA Discussion Papers 3096, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3096
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    Cited by:

    1. Eran Yashiv & Espen R. Moen, 2009. "Worker Matching and Firm Value," 2009 Meeting Papers 624, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Thomas Cornelissen & Christian Dustmann & Uta Schönberg, 2017. "Peer Effects in the Workplace," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(2), pages 425-456, February.
    3. R Simmons & D J Berri, 2010. "Mixing the princes and the paupers: Pay and performance in the National Basketball Association," Working Papers 611523, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    4. repec:iza:izawol:journl:y:2017:n:377 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Bodvarsson, Őrn B. & Papps, Kerry L. & Sessions, John G., 2014. "Cross-assignment discrimination in pay: A test case of major league baseball," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 84-95.
    6. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:1556-1578 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Gould, Eric D. & Kaplan, Todd R., 2011. "Learning unethical practices from a co-worker: The peer effect of Jose Canseco," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 338-348, June.
    8. Simmons, Rob & Berri, David J., 2011. "Mixing the princes and the paupers: Pay and performance in the National Basketball Association," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 381-388, June.
    9. Hoogendoorn, Sander M. & Parker, Simon C. & van Praag, Mirjam C., 2012. "Ability Dispersion and Team Performance: A Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7044, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. repec:lan:wpaper:3659 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:lan:wpaper:3944 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Qiang Fu & Changxia Ke & Fangfang Tan, 2013. ""Success Breeds Success" or "Pride Goes Before a Fall"? Teams and Individuals in Multi-contest Tournaments," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2013-06, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    13. Sander Hoogendoorn & Simon C. Parker & Mirjam van Praag, 2014. "Ability Dispersion and Team Performance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-053/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    14. Julia Müller & Thorsten Upmann & Joachim Prinz, 2013. "Individual Team Productivity - A Conceptual Approach," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-183/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    15. Michael D. Frakes & Melissa F. Wasserman, 2017. "Knowledge Spillovers and Learning in the Workplace: Evidence from the U.S. Patent Office," NBER Working Papers 24159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. repec:lan:wpaper:3551 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Papps, Kerry L. & Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael, 2011. "Heterogeneous worker ability and team-based production: Evidence from major league baseball, 1920-2009," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 310-319, June.
    18. Barbieri, Stefano, 2017. "Voluntary public good provision with private information using order statistics," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 63-66.
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    20. Esteban F. Klor & Sebastian Kube & Eyal Winter & Ro'i Zultan, 2011. "Can Higher Bonuses Lead to Less E ort? Incentive Reversal in Teams," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000073, David K. Levine.
    21. Klor, Esteban F. & Kube, Sebastian & Winter, Eyal & Zultan, Ro’i, 2014. "Can higher rewards lead to less effort? Incentive reversal in teams," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 72-83.
    22. Papps, Kerry L., 2010. "Productivity under Large Pay Increases: Evidence from Professional Baseball," IZA Discussion Papers 5133, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    24. Dennis Coates & Petr Parshakov, 2016. "Team Vs. Individual Tournaments: Evidence From Prize Structure In Esports," HSE Working papers WP BRP 138/EC/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    25. Natalia Montinari, 2011. "The Dark Side of Reciprocity," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-052, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    peer effects; team production; externalities;

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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