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Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance

Listed author(s):
  • Kosfeld, Michael

    ()

    (Goethe University Frankfurt)

  • Neckermann, Susanne

    ()

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

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.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp5040.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5040.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Publication status: published in: American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2011, 3 (3), 86-99
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5040
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  1. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2011. "Was There Really a Hawthorne Effect at the Hawthorne Plant? An Analysis of the Original Illumination Experiments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 224-238, January.
  2. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2006. "Contests For Status," Working Papers 0604, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
  3. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-555, March.
  4. Sebastian Kube & Michel Andr� Mar�chal & Clemens Puppe, 2010. "The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace," IEW - Working Papers 377, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Aug 2011.
  5. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Joeri Sol & Willem Verbeke, 2009. "Tournament Incentives in the Field: Gender Differences in the Workplace," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-069/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 20 Apr 2012.
  6. 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.
  7. Andrea Patacconi & Florian Ederer, 2005. "Interpersonal Comparison, Status and Ambition in Organisations," Economics Series Working Papers 222, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, "undated". "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
  10. Dur, Robert, 2008. "Gift Exchange in the Workplace: Money or Attention?," IZA Discussion Papers 3839, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Emmanuelle Auriol & Régis Renault, 2007. "Status and Incentives," THEMA Working Papers 2007-01, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
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