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Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance

  • 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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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
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2011, 3 (3), 86-99
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5040
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  1. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
  2. Andrea Patacconi & Florian Ederer, 2005. "Interpersonal Comparison, Status and Ambition in Organisations," Economics Series Working Papers 222, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Sol, Joeri & Verbeke, Willem, 2009. "Tournament Incentives in the Field: Gender Differences in the Workplace," IZA Discussion Papers 4395, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Sebastian Kube & Michel André Maréchal & 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. Emmanuelle Auriol & Régis Renault, 2008. "Status and incentives," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(1), pages 305-326.
  6. Dur, Robert, 2008. "Gift Exchange in the Workplace: Money or Attention?," IZA Discussion Papers 3839, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2007. "Doing good or doing well? Image motivation and monetary incentives in behaving prosocially," Working Papers 07-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  9. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2009. "Was there Really a Hawthorne Effect at the Hawthorne Plant? An Analysis of the Original Illumination Experiments," NBER Working Papers 15016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner & Shi, Xianwen, 2005. "Contests for Status," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 139, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  11. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status In Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188, February.
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