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Peer Pressure, Incentives, and Gender: an Experimental Analysis of Motivation in the Workplace

  • Charles Bellemare
  • Patrick Lepage
  • Bruce Shearer

We present results from a real-effort experiment, simulating actual work-place conditions, comparing the productivity of workers under fixed wages and piece rates. Workers, who were paid to enter data, were exposed to different degrees of peer pressure under both payment systems. The peer pressure was generated in the form of private information about the productivity of their peers. We have two main results. First, we find no level of peer pressure for which the productivity of either male or female workers is significantly higher than productivity without peer pressure. Second, we find that very low and very high levels of peer pressure can significantly decrease productivity (particularly for men paid fixed wages). These results are consistent with models of conformism and self-motivation.

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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0901.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0901
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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521608275 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Paarsch, H-J & Shearer, B, 1996. "Piece Rates, Fixed Wages, and Incentive Effects : Statistical Evidence From Payroll Records," Papers 9623, Laval - Recherche en Energie.
  4. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and Competition at a Young Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 377-381, May.
  5. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
  6. Mas, Alexandre & Moretti, Enrico, 2006. "Peers at Work," IZA Discussion Papers 2292, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
  8. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  9. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
  10. Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Papers 90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  11. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  12. Harry J. Paarsch & Bruce S. Shearer, 1999. "The Response of Worker Effort to Piece Rates: Evidence from the British Columbia Tree-Planting Industry," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(4), pages 643-667.
  13. Bruce Shearer, 2004. "Piece Rates, Fixed Wages and Incentives: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 513-534, 04.
  14. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  15. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  16. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521845731 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Joesph E. Stiglitz, 1975. "Incentives, Risk, and Information: Notes Towards a Theory of Hierarchy," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(2), pages 552-579, Autumn.
  18. Paarsch, Harry J. & Shearer, Bruce S., 2007. "Do women react differently to incentives? Evidence from experimental data and payroll records," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 1682-1707, October.
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