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Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance

Author

Listed:
  • Kosfeld, Michael

    () (Goethe University Frankfurt)

  • Neckermann, Susanne

    () (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

We study the impact of status and social recognition on worker performance in a field experiment. In collaboration with an international non-governmental organization we hired students to work on a database project. Students in the award treatment were offered a congratulatory card from the organization honoring the best performance. The award was purely symbolic in order to ensure that any behavioral effect is driven by non-material benefits. Our results show that students in the award treatment outperform students in the control treatment by about 12 percent on average. Our results provide strong evidence for the motivating power of status and social recognition in labor relations with major implications for theory and applications.

Suggested Citation

  • Kosfeld, Michael & Neckermann, Susanne, 2010. "Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 5040, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5040
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
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    3. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Joeri Sol & Willem Verbeke, 2013. "Tournament Incentives in the Field: Gender Differences in the Workplace," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 305-326.
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    5. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Contests for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 338-363.
    6. Robert Dur, 2009. "Gift Exchange in The Workplace: Money or Attention?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 550-560, 04-05.
    7. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status in Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188.
    8. Sebastian Kube & Michel Andre Marechal & Clemens Puppe, 2012. "The Currency of Reciprocity: Gift Exchange in the Workplace," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1644-1662, June.
    9. Ederer, Florian & Patacconi, Andrea, 2010. "Interpersonal comparison, status and ambition in organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 348-363, August.
    10. Emmanuelle Auriol & Régis Renault, 2008. "Status and incentives," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(1), pages 305-326.
    11. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    award; non-monetary incentives; status; field experiment; social recognition;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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