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Why the Referential Treatment: Evidence from Field Experiments on Referrals

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  • Amanda Pallais
  • Emily Glassberg Sands

Abstract

Referred workers are more likely than non-referred workers to be hired, all else equal. In three field experiments in an online labor market, we examine why. We find that referrals contain positive information about worker performance and persistence that is not contained in workers' observable characteristics. We also find that referrals performed particularly well when working directly with their referrers. However, we do not find evidence that referrals exert more effort because they believe their performance will affect their relationship with their referrer or their referrer's position at the firm.

Suggested Citation

  • Amanda Pallais & Emily Glassberg Sands, 2015. "Why the Referential Treatment: Evidence from Field Experiments on Referrals," NBER Working Papers 21357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21357
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mitchell Hoffman & Lisa B Kahn & Danielle Li, 2018. "Discretion in Hiring," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(2), pages 765-800.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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