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On the Relevance and Composition of Gifts within the Firm: Evidence from Field Experiments

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  • Charles Bellemare
  • Bruce Shearer

Abstract

We investigate the economic relevance and the composition of gifts within a firm where output is contractible. We develop a structural econometric model that identifies workers’ optimal reaction to monetary gifts received from their employer. We estimate the model using data from two separate field experiments, both conducted within a tree-planting firm. We use the estimated structural parameters to generalize beyond the experiment, simulating how workers would react to different gifts on the part of the firm, within different labour-market settings. We find that gifts have a role to play within this firm, increasing in importance when the workers’ outside alternatives deteriorate. Profit-maximizing gifts would increase profits within slack labour markets by up to 10% on average and by up to 17% for certain types of workers. These gifts represent significant increases in worker earnings; the average gift paid to workers attains 22% of average expected earnings in the absence of gifts. We find that gifts should be given by setting piece-rates above the market-clearing level rather than through fixed wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Bellemare & Bruce Shearer, 2009. "On the Relevance and Composition of Gifts within the Firm: Evidence from Field Experiments," Cahiers de recherche 0932, CIRPEE.
  • Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0932
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce, 2009. "Gift giving and worker productivity: Evidence from a firm-level experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 233-244, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 1-56.
    2. Matteo Maggiori & Emmanuel Farhi, 2015. "A Model of the International Monetary System," Working Paper 349586, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    3. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier & Gautam Rao, 2016. "Estimating Social Preferences and Gift Exchange at Work," NBER Working Papers 22043, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Englmaier, Florian & Roider, Andreas & Sunde, Uwe, 2014. "The Role of Communication of Performance Schemes: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 507, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    5. Matthias Fahn & Anne Schade & Katharina Schüßler, 2017. "What Drives Reciprocal Behavior? The Optimal Provision of Incentives over the Course of Careers," CESifo Working Paper Series 6635, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Non, Arjan, 2012. "Gift-exchange, incentives, and heterogeneous workers," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 319-336.
    7. Cardella, Eric & Depew, Briggs, 2016. "Testing for the Ratchet Effect: Evidence from a Real-Effort Work Task," IZA Discussion Papers 9981, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gift giving; structural models; field experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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