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In Search of Workers' Real Effort Reciprocity - A Field and a Laboratory Experiment

  • Hennig-Schmidt, Heike
  • Rockenbach, Bettina
  • Sadrieh, Abdolkarim

We present a field experiment to assess the effect of own and peer wage variations on actual work effort of employees with hourly wages. Work effort neither reacts to an increase of the own wage, nor to a positive or negative peer comparison. This result seems at odds with numerous laboratory experiments that show a clear own wage sensitivity on effort. In an additional real-effort laboratory experiment we show that explicit cost and surplus information that enables to exactly calculate employer’s surplus from the work contract is a crucial pre-requisite for a positive wage-effort relation. This demonstrates that employee’s reciprocity requires a clear assessment of the surplus at stake.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 55.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:55
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  1. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2004. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000439, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Camerer, Colin & Babcock, Linda & Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard, 1996. "Labor Supply of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day At A time," Working Papers 960, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  3. Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Relative Wages, Efficiency Wages, and Keynesian Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 383-88, May.
  4. Uri Gneezy & John A. List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 12063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Dickinson, David L, 1999. "An Experimental Examination of Labor Supply and Work Intensities," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 638-70, October.
  6. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  7. Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn, 2005. "Pay Inequality, Pay Secrecy, and Effort: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 11786, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 1999. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 106-134, February.
  9. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter J., 2004. "Do Co-Workers’ Wages Matter? Theory and Evidence on Wage Secrecy, Wage Compression and Effort," IZA Discussion Papers 1417, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Simon Gaechter & Armin Falk, . "Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," IEW - Working Papers 019, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. Mitzkewitz, Michael & Nagel, Rosemarie, 1993. "Experimental Results on Ultimatum Games with Incomplete Information," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 171-98.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2002. "Do workers work more if wages are high? Evidence from a randomized field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00240, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  15. Adriana D. Kugler & Gilles Saint-Paul, 2004. "How Do Firing Costs Affect Worker Flows in a World with Adverse Selection?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 553-584, July.
  16. Gary Charness & Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel, 2004. "How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 189-205, 06.
  17. Charness, Gary B, 2004. "Attribution And Reciprocity In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8rp6b18c, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  18. Fahr, Rene & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2000. "Fairness as a constraint on trust in reciprocity: earned property rights in a reciprocal exchange experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 275-282, March.
  19. Fehr, Ernst, et al, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-51, April.
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