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On the Relevance and Composition of Gifts within the Firm: Evidence from Field Experiments

Author

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  • Bellemare, Charles

    () (Université Laval)

  • Shearer, Bruce S.

    () (Université Laval)

Abstract

We investigate the economic relevance and the composition of gifts within a firm where output is contractible. We develop a structural econometric model that identifies workers' optimal reaction to monetary gifts received from their employer. We estimate the model using data from two separate field experiments, both conducted within a tree-planting firm. We use the estimated structural parameters to generalize beyond the experiment, simulating how workers would react to different gifts on the part of the firm, within different labour-market settings. We find that gifts have a role to play within this firm, increasing in importance when the workers' outside alternatives deteriorate. Profit-maximizing gifts would increase profits within slack labour markets by up to 10% on average and by up to 17% for certain types of workers. These gifts represent significant increases in worker earnings; the average gift paid to workers attains 22% of average expected earnings in the absence of gifts. We find that gifts should be given by setting piece-rates above the market-clearing level rather than through fixed wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce S., 2009. "On the Relevance and Composition of Gifts within the Firm: Evidence from Field Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 4339, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4339
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    8. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, "undated". "Do Incentive Contracts Crowd out Voluntary Cooperation?," IEW - Working Papers 034, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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    10. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce, 2009. "Gift giving and worker productivity: Evidence from a firm-level experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 233-244, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 1-56.
    2. Stefano DellaVigna & John List & Ulrike Malmendier & Gautam Rao, 2016. "Estimating Social Preferences and Gift Exchange at Work," Natural Field Experiments 00586, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. Marco Faillo & Luigi Mittone & Costanza Piovanelli, 2018. "Cash posters in the lab," CEEL Working Papers 1801, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    4. Englmaier, Florian & Roider, Andreas & Sunde, Uwe, 2014. "The Role of Communication of Performance Schemes: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 507, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    5. Matthias Fahn & Anne Schade & Katharina Schüßler, 2017. "What Drives Reciprocal Behavior? The Optimal Provision of Incentives over the Course of Careers," CESifo Working Paper Series 6635, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Luca Livio, 2018. "Friends or Foes? Optimal Incentives for Reciprocal Agents," Working Papers ECARES 2018-03, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    7. Non, Arjan, 2012. "Gift-exchange, incentives, and heterogeneous workers," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 319-336.
    8. Cardella, Eric & Depew, Briggs, 2016. "Testing for the Ratchet Effect: Evidence from a Real-Effort Work Task," IZA Discussion Papers 9981, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Carpenter, Jeffrey, 2016. "The labor supply of fixed-wage workers: Estimates from a real effort experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 85-95.
    10. repec:eee:gamebe:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:182-202 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    field experiments; structural models; gift giving;

    JEL classification:

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

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