IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp5727.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Equity and Efficiency in Multi-Worker Firms: Insights from Experimental Economics

Author

Listed:
  • Abeler, Johannes

    (University of Oxford)

  • Altmann, Steffen

    (IZA and University of Copenhagen)

  • Goerg, Sebastian J.

    (Technische Universität München)

  • Kube, Sebastian

    (University of Bonn)

  • Wibral, Matthias

    (Maastricht University)

Abstract

In this paper, we discuss recent evidence from economic experiments that study the impact of social preferences on workplace behavior. We focus on situations in which a single employer interacts with multiple employees. Traditionally, equity and efficiency have been seen as opposing aims in such work environments: individual pay-for-performance schemes maximize efficiency but might lead to inequitable outcomes. We present findings from laboratory experiments that show under which circumstances partially incomplete contracts can create equitable work environments while at the same time reaching surprisingly efficient outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Abeler, Johannes & Altmann, Steffen & Goerg, Sebastian J. & Kube, Sebastian & Wibral, Matthias, 2011. "Equity and Efficiency in Multi-Worker Firms: Insights from Experimental Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 5727, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5727
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://docs.iza.org/dp5727.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eyal Winter, 2004. "Incentives and Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 764-773, June.
    2. Brandts, Jordi & Solà, Carles, 2010. "Personal relations and their effect on behavior in an organizational setting: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 246-253, February.
    3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
    4. Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Peers at Work," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 112-145, March.
    5. Sebastian Kube & Michel André Maréchal & Clemens Puppe, 2013. "Do Wage Cuts Damage Work Morale? Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 853-870, August.
    6. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    7. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
    8. Sebastian J. Goerg & Sebastian Kube & Ro'i Zultan, 2010. "Treating Equals Unequally: Incentives in Teams, Workers' Motivation, and Production Technology," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 747-772, October.
    9. Gächter, Simon & Thöni, Christian, 2010. "Social comparison and performance: Experimental evidence on the fair wage-effort hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 531-543, December.
    10. Johannes Abeler & Steffen Altmann & Sebastian Kube & Matthias Wibral, 2010. "Gift Exchange and Workers' Fairness Concerns: When Equality is Unfair," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(6), pages 1299-1324, December.
    11. Simon Gächter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2012. "The Impact of Social Comparisons on Reciprocity," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1346-1367, December.
    12. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-715, September.
    13. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    14. List, John A. & Rasul, Imran, 2011. "Field Experiments in Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 2, pages 103-228, Elsevier.
    15. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    16. 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.
    17. Kölle, Felix & Sliwka, Dirk & Zhou, Nannan, 2011. "Inequality, Inequity Aversion, and the Provision of Public Goods," IZA Discussion Papers 5514, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
    19. James L. Medoff & Katharine G. Abraham, 1980. "Experience, Performance, and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(4), pages 703-736.
    20. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-817, August.
    21. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, September.
    22. Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn, 2007. "Does Pay Inequality Affect Worker Effort? Experimental Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 693-723.
    23. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
    24. Alain Cohn & Ernst Fehr & Benedikt Herrmann & Frédéric Schneider, 2011. "Social comparison in the workplace: evidence from a field experiment," ECON - Working Papers 007, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    25. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Maximiano, Sandra & Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2013. "Gift exchange and the separation of ownership and control," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 41-60.
    2. Jose Rojas-Fallas & J. Forrest Williams, 2020. "Wage Differences Matter: An Experiment of Social Comparison and Effort Provision when Wages Increase or Decrease," Games, MDPI, vol. 11(4), pages 1-12, December.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Marco Kleine & Sebastian Kube, 2015. "Communication and Trust in Principal-Team Relationships: Experimental Evidence," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2015_06, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. Fortuna Casoria & Arno Riedl, 2013. "Experimental Labor Markets And Policy Considerations: Incomplete Contracts And Macroeconomic Aspects," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 398-420, July.
    3. Emily Breza & Supreet Kaur & Yogita Shamdasani, 2018. "The Morale Effects of Pay Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(2), pages 611-663.
    4. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    5. Bejarano, Hernán & Corgnet, Brice & Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín, 2021. "Economic stability promotes gift-exchange in the workplace," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 374-398.
    6. Boosey, Luke & Goerg, Sebastian, 2020. "The timing of discretionary bonuses – effort, signals, and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 254-280.
    7. Gross, Till & Guo, Christopher & Charness, Gary, 2015. "Merit pay and wage compression with productivity differences and uncertainty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 233-247.
    8. Dohmen, Thomas, 2014. "Behavioral labor economics: Advances and future directions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 71-85.
    9. Aurélie BONEIN, 2014. "Social Comparison and Peer effects with Heterogeneous Ability," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201411, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
    10. Lackner, Mario & Sonnabend, Hendrik, 2021. "Coping with advantageous inequity—Field evidence from professional penalty kicking," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    11. Gächter, Simon & Thöni, Christian, 2010. "Social comparison and performance: Experimental evidence on the fair wage-effort hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 531-543, December.
    12. Maximiano, Sandra & Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2013. "Gift exchange and the separation of ownership and control," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 41-60.
    13. Kocher, Martin G. & Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Sutter, Matthias, 2012. "Testing a forgotten aspect of Akerlof’s gift exchange hypothesis: Relational contracts with individual and uniform wages," Discussion Papers in Economics 12816, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    14. Benndorf, Volker & Rau, Holger A., 2012. "Competition in the workplace: An experimental investigation," DICE Discussion Papers 53, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    15. Sebastian J. Goerg & Sebastian Kube & Ro'i Zultan, 2010. "Treating Equals Unequally: Incentives in Teams, Workers' Motivation, and Production Technology," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 747-772, October.
    16. Sanjit Dhami & Mengxing Wei & Ali al-Nowaihi, 2021. "Classical and Belief-Based Gift Exchange Models: Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 8992, CESifo.
    17. Fortuna Casoria & Arno Riedl, 2013. "Experimental Labor Markets And Policy Considerations: Incomplete Contracts And Macroeconomic Aspects," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 398-420, July.
    18. Gächter, Simon & Thöni, Christian, 2010. "Social comparison and performance: Experimental evidence on the fair wage-effort hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 531-543, December.
    19. Christian Thoeni & Simon Gaechter, 2011. "Peer Effects and Social Preferences in Voluntary Cooperation," Discussion Papers 2011-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    20. Gose, Karina & Sadrieh, Abdolkarim, 2014. "Strike, coordination, and dismissal in uniform wage settings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 145-158.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    laboratory experiments; wage setting; equity; gift exchange; reciprocity; incomplete contracts; incentives; organizational economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5727. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Holger Hinte (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/izaaade.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.