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Peers at Work: From the Field to the Lab

Listed author(s):
  • Roel van Veldhuizen

    (WZB Berlin Social Science Center)

  • Hessel Oosterbeek

    (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

  • Joep Sonnemans

    (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

In an influential study, Mas and Moretti (2009) find that “worker effort is positively related to the productivity of workers who see him, but not workers who do not see him”. They interpret this as evidence that social pressure can reduce free riding. In this paper we report an attempt to reproduce the findings of Mas and Moretti in a lab experiment. Lab experiments have the advantage that they can shut down alternative channels through which workers can influence the productivity of colleagues whom they observe. Although the subjects in our experiment are aware of the productivity of others and although there is sufficient scope for subjects to vary their productivity, we find no evidence of the type of peer effects reported by Mas and Moretti. This suggests that their findings are less generalizable than has been assumed.

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Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 14-051/I.

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Date of creation: 29 Apr 2014
Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20140051
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  1. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," Cahiers de recherche 1320, CIRPEE.
  2. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," Cahiers de recherche 1320, CIRPEE.
  3. Armin Falk & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," Working Papers 200935, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. Georganas, Sotiris & Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2015. "Peer pressure and productivity: The role of observing and being observed," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 223-232.
  5. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
  6. Olivier Armantier & Amadou Boly, 2008. "Can Corruption Be Studied in the Lab? Comparing a Field and a Lab Experiment," CIRANO Working Papers 2008s-26, CIRANO.
  7. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," Cahiers de recherche 1320, CIRPEE.
  8. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
  9. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, 09.
  10. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," Cahiers de recherche 1320, CIRPEE.
  11. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
  12. Onderstal, Sander & Schram, Arthur J.H.C. & Soetevent, Adriaan R., 2013. "Bidding to give in the field," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 72-85.
  13. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "Social Networks and Peer Effects at Work," Working Papers halshs-00855047, HAL.
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