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Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance

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  • 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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5040
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    award; non-monetary incentives; status; field experiment; social recognition;
    All these keywords.

    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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