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Worker Reciprocity and the Returns to Training: Evidence from a Field Experiment

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  • Sauermann, Jan

    () (SOFI, Stockholm University)

Abstract

Workers' reciprocal behavior is one argument used to explain why firms invest in employee human capital. We explore the relation between firm-sponsored training and reciprocity by providing evidence that workers reciprocate employer training investments by making greater effort. Using a field experiment with random assignment to a training program, we show that reciprocal workers have significantly higher performance than their non-reciprocal peers after participation in the training course. This result suggests that reciprocal workers exert greater effort in response to the firm's investment.

Suggested Citation

  • Sauermann, Jan, 2015. "Worker Reciprocity and the Returns to Training: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 9179, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9179
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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.
    2. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
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    5. Andries De Grip & Jan Sauermann, 2012. "The Effects of Training on Own and Co‐worker Productivity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(560), pages 376-399, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2008. "Representative Trust And Reciprocity: Prevalence And Determinants," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(1), pages 84-90, January.
    8. Xiangmin Liu & Rosemary Batt, 2007. "The Economic Pay-Offs to Informal Training: Evidence from Routine Service Work," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(1), pages 75-89, October.
    9. Abigail Barr & Pieter Serneels, 2009. "Reciprocity in the workplace," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(1), pages 99-112, March.
    10. Raymond Montizaan & Andries de Grip & Frank Cörvers & Thomas Dohmen, 2016. "The Impact of Negatively Reciprocal Inclinations on Worker Behavior: Evidence from a Retrenchment of Pension Rights," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(3), pages 668-681, March.
    11. Nagesh N. Murthy & Goutam N. Challagalla & Leslie H. Vincent & Tasadduq A. Shervani, 2008. "The Impact of Simulation Training on Call Center Agent Performance: A Field-Based Investigation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(2), pages 384-399, February.
    12. Montizaan R.M. & Grip A. de & Fouarge D., 2015. "Training access, reciprocity, and expected retirement age," Research Memorandum 005, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    13. Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-9.
    14. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1999. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 539-572, June.
    15. 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.
    16. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    17. Breuer, Kathrin & Nieken, Petra & Sliwka, Dirk, 2010. "Social Ties and Subjective Performance Evaluations: An Empirical Investigation," IZA Discussion Papers 4913, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Sascha O. Becker & Dolores Messer & Stefan C. Wolter, 2013. "A Gift is Not Always a Gift: Heterogeneity and Long-term Effects in a Gift Exchange Experiment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 80(318), pages 345-371, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carpenter, Jeffrey, 2016. "The labor supply of fixed-wage workers: Estimates from a real effort experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 85-95.
    2. Jens Mohrenweiser & Gabriele Wydra-Somaggio & Thomas Zwick, 2017. "Information Advantages of Training Employers Despite Credible Training Certificates," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0121, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Apr 2017.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    firm-sponsored training; reciprocity; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles

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