IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Shirking and Motivation in Firms: Survey Evidence on Worker Attitudes

  • Lanse Minkler

    (University of Connecticut)

In an extensive national survey, 82.7% of the respondents report that they are very likely to keep an agreement to work hard if they agreed to, even if it was almost impossible for their employer to monitor them. Based on mean responses, the rank order of motivations in descending importance is: moral, intrinsic, peer-pressure, and positive incentives. Respondents also report that fairness considerations are important and that they are especially likely to keep agreements to do a good job with honest employers. Logit analysis indicates that increases in moral and intrinsic motivations increase the likelihood of keeping agreements to provide effort. The evidence suggests that we need to re-examine a foundational assumption underlying the theory of the firm.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: Full text
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2002-37.

in new window

Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2002-37
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Connecticut 365 Fairfield Way, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 1998. "Are Women Less Selfish Than Men? Evidence from Dictator Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 726-35, May.
  3. Smiley, Robert, 1988. "Empirical evidence on strategic entry deterrence," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 167-180.
  4. Cohen-Charash, Yochi & Spector, Paul E., 2001. "The Role of Justice in Organizations: A Meta-Analysis," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 278-321, November.
  5. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 7580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Frey, Bruno S., 1997. "On the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic work motivation1," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 427-439, July.
  7. Dowell, Richard S & Goldfarb, Robert S & Griffith, William B, 1998. "Economic Man as a Moral Individual," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 645-53, October.
  8. Teece, David J., 1980. "Economies of scope and the scope of the enterprise," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 223-247, September.
  9. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
  10. Loasby, Brian J., 1998. "The organisation of capabilities," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 139-160, April.
  11. James Mitchell & Richard J. Smith & Martin R. Weale, 2002. "Quantification of Qualitative Firm-Level Survey Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C117-C135, March.
  12. Bohnet, Iris & Frey, Bruno S., 1999. "The sound of silence in prisoner's dilemma and dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 43-57, January.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  14. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  15. Nalbantian, Haig & Schotter, Andrew, 1994. "Productivity Under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 94-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  16. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 3185, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  18. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  19. Schneider, Friedrich & Pommerehne, Werner W, 1981. "Free Riding and Collective Action: An Experiment in Public Microeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 96(4), pages 689-704, November.
  20. Lanse P. Minkler & Thomas J. Miceli, 2002. "Lying, Integrity, and Cooperation," Working papers 2002-39, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  21. Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996. "Tax Compliance," Working papers 9610, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  22. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  23. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  24. James Konow, 2001. "A Positive Theory of Economic Fairness," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000138, David K. Levine.
  25. Oliver Hart & Bengt Holmstrom, 1986. "The Theory of Contracts," Working papers 418, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  26. Winter, Sidney G, 1988. "On Coase, Competence, and the Corporation," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 163-80, Spring.
  27. Aiginger, Karl & Mueller, Dennis C. & Weiss, Christoph, 1998. "Objectives, topics and methods in industrial organization during the nineties: Results from a survey," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 799-830, November.
  28. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
  29. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  30. Margit Osterloh & Bruno S. Frey, . "Motivation, Knowledge Transfer, and Organizational Form," IEW - Working Papers 027, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  31. Calvo, Guillermo A & Wellisz, Stanislaw, 1978. "Supervision, Loss of Control, and the Optimum Size of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 943-52, October.
  32. Minkler, Alanson P, 1993. "The Problem with Dispersed Knowledge: Firms in Theory and Practice," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 569-87.
  33. Richard N. Langlois & Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Capabilities and Governance the Rebirth of Production in the Theory of Economic Organization," Working papers 1996-02, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  34. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "THE HIDDEN COSTS AND RETURNS OF INCENTIVES — TRUST AND TRUSTWORTHINESS AMONG CEOs," Labor and Demography 0409012, EconWPA.
  35. Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Papers 90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  36. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  37. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  38. Teece, David J., 1982. "Towards an economic theory of the multiproduct firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 39-63, March.
  39. Brunello, Giorgio & Graziano, Clara & Parigi, Bruno, 2001. "Executive compensation and firm performance in Italy," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 133-161, January.
  40. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  41. Marwell, Gerald & Ames, Ruth E., 1981. "Economists free ride, does anyone else? : Experiments on the provision of public goods, IV," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 295-310, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2002-37. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark McConnel)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.