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Learning unethical practices from a co-worker: the peer effect of Jose Canseco

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  • Gould, Eric
  • Kaplan, Todd R

Abstract

This paper examines the issue of whether workers learn productive skills from their co-workers, even if those skills are unethical. Specifically, we estimate whether Jose Canseco, a star baseball player in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, affected the performance of his teammates by introducing them to steroids. Using panel data, we show that a player’s performance increases significantly after they played with Jose Canseco. After checking 30 comparable players from the same era, we find that no other baseball player produced a similar effect. Furthermore, the positive effect of Canseco disappears after 2003, the year that drug testing was implemented. These results suggest that workers not only learn productive skills from their co-workers, but sometimes those skills may derive from unethical practices. These findings may be relevant to many workplaces where competitive pressures create incentives to adopt unethical means to boost productivity and profits. Our analysis leads to several potential policy implications designed to reduce the spread of unethical behavior among workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Gould, Eric & Kaplan, Todd R, 2010. "Learning unethical practices from a co-worker: the peer effect of Jose Canseco," MPRA Paper 24232, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:24232
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Crime, unemployment & peer effects
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2011-10-20 19:18:18

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    Cited by:

    1. Shoko Yamane & Ryohei Hayashi, 2018. "The Superior Peer Improves Me: Evidence from Swimming Data," ISER Discussion Paper 1025, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    2. Mechtel, Mario & Bäker, Agnes, 2015. "Peer Effects in Cheating on Task Performance," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113093, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Mario Lackner & Hendrik Sonnabend, 2017. "Coping with advantageous inequity - Field evidence from professional penalty kicking," Economics working papers 2017-21, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    4. Papps, Kerry L. & Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael, 2011. "Heterogeneous worker ability and team-based production: Evidence from major league baseball, 1920-2009," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 310-319, June.
    5. Horrace, William C. & Liu, Xiaodong & Patacchini, Eleonora, 2016. "Endogenous network production functions with selectivity," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 190(2), pages 222-232.
    6. Vilen Lipatov, 2014. "Compliance Dynamics Generated by Social Interaction Rules," CESifo Working Paper Series 4767, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Agnes Baeker & Mario Mechtel, 2015. "Peer Settings Induce Cheating on Task Performance," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201506, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
    8. Dimant, Eugen, 2015. "On Peer Effects: Behavioral Contagion of (Un)Ethical Behavior and the Role of Social Identity," MPRA Paper 68732, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. John Charles Bradbury, 2013. "Did Jose Canseco Really Improve the Performance of His Teammates by Spreading Steroids? A Critique of Gould and Kaplan," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 10(1), pages 40-69, January.
    10. Mugerman, Yevgeny & Sade, Orly & Shayo, Moses, 2014. "Long term savings decisions: Financial reform, peer effects and ethnicity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 235-253.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Peer Effects; Corruption; Crime; Externalities;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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