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Sloppy Work, Lies and Theft: A Novel Experimental Design to Study Counterproductive Behaviour

  • Michèle Belot

    ()

    (School of Management, University of Edinburgh)

  • Marina Schröder

    ()

    (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

We propose a novel experimental design to study counterproductive behaviour in a principal agent setting. The design allows us to study and derive clean measures of different forms of counterproductive behaviour in a controlled but non obtrusive manner. We ask participants to complete a specific task (identify euro coins) and report their output. Participants can engage in various forms of counterproductive behaviour, none of them being offered to them explicitly. They can make mistakes in the identification task, lie in their report or even steal coins. We present an application of the design to study the effects of different pay schemes (competition, fixed pay and piece rate) on counterproductive behaviour. On average counterproductive behaviour amounts to 10 percent of the average productivity, almost all arising through mistakes and overreporting of output. We find essentially no evidence of theft. Moreover, we find that both productive and counterproductive behaviour are significantly higher under competition than under the two other pay schemes.

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File URL: http://www.fww.ovgu.de/fww_media/femm/femm_2012/2012_18.pdf
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Paper provided by Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management in its series FEMM Working Papers with number 120018.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mag:wpaper:120018
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