IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/ifwkwp/2199.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Kind or contented? An investigation of the gift exchange hypothesis in a natural field experiment in Colombia

Author

Listed:
  • Bogliacino, Francesco
  • Grimalda, Gianluca
  • Pipke, David

Abstract

The gift exchange hypothesis postulates that workers reciprocate above market-clearing wages with above-minimum effort. This hypothesis has received mixed support in dyadic employer-worker relationships. We present a field-experimental test to assess this hypothesis in the context of a triadic relationship in which only one out of two workers receives a pay increase. We conjecture that inequality aversion motivations may thwart positive reciprocity motivations and analyze the interaction between such motivations theoretically. Across three treatments, the pay increase is justified to workers based on either relative merit or relative need or was arbitrary as no justification was offered. Two conditions in which either none or both workers receive a bonus serve as the reference. In contrast to the gift exchange hypothesis, we find that pay increases lead to a decrease in productivity. Such a decrease is most sizable in the condition where both workers receive the bonus. A post-diction of this result is that workers interpret the monetary bonus as a signal of the employer's contentment with their effort, which makes them feel entitled to reduce their effort. In other treatments, receiving the pay increase while the coworker does not has a positive effect on productivity, especially when the pay increase is based on merit. This result is consistent with statusseeking preferences rather than aversion against advantageous inequality. Conversely, not receiving the pay increase while the coworker does, leads to lower productivity, especially when the pay increase is assigned based on relative needs.

Suggested Citation

  • Bogliacino, Francesco & Grimalda, Gianluca & Pipke, David, 2021. "Kind or contented? An investigation of the gift exchange hypothesis in a natural field experiment in Colombia," Kiel Working Papers 2199, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkwp:2199
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/246590/1/1777344816.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-1093, Nov.-Dec..
    3. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
    4. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    5. Klaus Abbink & Benedikt Herrmann, 2011. "The Moral Costs Of Nastiness," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(2), pages 631-633, April.
    6. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette & Christian Zehnder, 2009. "A Behavioral Account of the Labor Market: The Role of Fairness Concerns," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 355-384, May.
    7. Ingvild Almås & Alexander W. Cappelen & Bertil Tungodden, 2020. "Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans More Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(5), pages 1753-1788.
    8. Bellemare, Charles & Kroger, Sabine, 2007. "On representative social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 183-202, January.
    9. Alexander W. Cappelen & Knut Nygaard & Erik Ø. Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2015. "Social Preferences in the Lab: A Comparison of Students and a Representative Population," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 117(4), pages 1306-1326, October.
    10. Florian Englmaier & Stephen Leider, 2020. "Managerial Payoff and Gift-Exchange in the Field," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-280, March.
    11. Alain Cohn & Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2015. "Fair Wages and Effort Provision: Combining Evidence from a Choice Experiment and a Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(8), pages 1777-1794, August.
    12. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
    13. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Lee, Scott S., 2014. "Awards unbundled: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 44-63.
    14. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    15. List, John A. & Rasul, Imran, 2011. "Field Experiments in Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 2, pages 103-228, Elsevier.
    16. Fehr, Ernst & Gachter, Simon, 1998. "Reciprocity and economics: The economic implications of Homo Reciprocans1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 845-859, May.
    17. Gary E Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 2005. "Fair Procedures: Evidence from Games Involving Lotteries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1054-1076, October.
    18. 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 728-741, September.
    19. Sebastian Kube & Michel Andre Marechal & Clemens Puppe, 2012. "The Currency of Reciprocity: Gift Exchange in the Workplace," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1644-1662, June.
    20. Gary Charness & Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel, 2004. "How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 7(2), pages 189-205, June.
    21. 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.
    22. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 23-48, Spring.
    23. Ruben Durante & Louis Putterman & Joël Weele, 2014. "Preferences For Redistribution And Perception Of Fairness: An Experimental Study," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1059-1086, August.
    24. Anat Bracha & Uri Gneezy & George Loewenstein, 2015. "Relative Pay and Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 297-315.
    25. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchler, Erich & Weichbold, Andreas & Gächter, Simon, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-351, April.
    26. 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, September.
    27. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, "undated". "Third Party Punishment and Social Norms," IEW - Working Papers 106, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    28. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
    29. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    30. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    31. Alberto Abadie & Susan Athey & Guido W Imbens & Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2023. "When Should You Adjust Standard Errors for Clustering?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 138(1), pages 1-35.
    32. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri Drange Hole & Erik Ø Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2007. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 818-827, June.
    33. Deffains, Bruno & Espinosa, Romain & Thöni, Christian, 2016. "Political self-serving bias and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 67-74.
    34. 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.
    35. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
    36. Duncan S. Gilchrist & Michael Luca & Deepak Malhotra, 2016. "When 3 + 1 > 4: Gift Structure and Reciprocity in the Field," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(9), pages 2639-2650, September.
    37. Bellemare, Charles & Kroger, Sabine, 2007. "On representative social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 183-202, January.
    38. Francesco Bogliacino & Laura Jiménez Lozano & Daniel Reyes, 2018. "Socioeconomic stratification and stereotyping: lab-in-the-field evidence from Colombia," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 65(1), pages 77-118, March.
    39. Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky, 2013. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Leonard C MacLean & William T Ziemba (ed.), HANDBOOK OF THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FINANCIAL DECISION MAKING Part I, chapter 6, pages 99-127, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    40. Emily Breza & Supreet Kaur & Yogita Shamdasani, 2018. "The Morale Effects of Pay Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 133(2), pages 611-663.
    41. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    42. Karl Schurter & Bart J. Wilson, 2009. "Justice and Fairness in the Dictator Game," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 76(1), pages 130-145, July.
    43. Karl Schurter & Bart J. Wilson, 2009. "Justice and Fairness in the Dictator Game," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 76(1), pages 130-145, July.
    44. Peter Martinsson & Clara Villegas-Palacio & Conny Wollbrant, 2015. "Cooperation and social classes: evidence from Colombia," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 45(4), pages 829-848, December.
    45. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 235-290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    46. Gächter, Simon & Thöni, Christian, 2010. "Social comparison and performance: Experimental evidence on the fair wage-effort hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 531-543, December.
    47. Alain Cohn & Ernst Fehr & Benedikt Herrmann & Frédéric Schneider, 2014. "Social Comparison And Effort Provision: Evidence From A Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 877-898, August.
    48. Joseph Henrich & Steve J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan, 2010. "The Weirdest People in the World?," RatSWD Working Papers 139, German Data Forum (RatSWD).
    49. Gianluca Grimalda & Anirban Kar & Eugenio Proto, 2016. "Procedural fairness in lotteries assigning initial roles in a dynamic setting," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 819-841, December.
    50. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
    51. Cox, James C. & Friedman, Daniel & Gjerstad, Steven, 2007. "A tractable model of reciprocity and fairness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 17-45, April.
    52. Trautmann, Stefan T., 2009. "A tractable model of process fairness under risk," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 803-813, October.
    53. repec:wly:soecon:v:81:3:y:2015:p:538-561 is not listed on IDEAS
    54. Constança Esteves-Sorenson, 2018. "Gift Exchange in the Workplace: Addressing the Conflicting Evidence with a Careful Test," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(9), pages 4365-4388, September.
    55. Ariely, Dan & Kamenica, Emir & Prelec, Drazen, 2008. "Man's search for meaning: The case of Legos," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(3-4), pages 671-677, September.
    56. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
    57. Krawczyk, Michal, 2010. "A glimpse through the veil of ignorance: Equality of opportunity and support for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 131-141, February.
    58. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    59. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce, 2009. "Gift giving and worker productivity: Evidence from a firm-level experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 233-244, September.
    60. repec:cep:stieop:46 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dohmen, Thomas, 2014. "Behavioral labor economics: Advances and future directions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 71-85.
    2. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    3. Brandes, Leif & Franck, Egon, 2012. "Social preferences or personal career concerns? Field evidence on positive and negative reciprocity in the workplace," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 925-939.
    4. Fortuna Casoria & Arno Riedl, 2013. "Experimental Labor Markets And Policy Considerations: Incomplete Contracts And Macroeconomic Aspects," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 398-420, July.
    5. Sautua, Santiago I., 2023. "Disentangling the influences of positive reciprocity and mood on gift exchange at work," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 102(C).
    6. Gächter, Simon & Kaiser, Esther & Königstein, Manfred, 2024. "Incentive Contracts Crowd Out Voluntary Cooperation: Evidence from Gift-Exchange Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 16872, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Simon Gächter & Esther Kaiser & Manfred Königstein, 2024. "Incentive contracts crowd out voluntary cooperation: Evidence from gift-exchange experiments," Discussion Papers 2024-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    8. Becker, Johannes & Hopp, Daniel & Süß, Karolin, 2020. "How altruistic is indirect reciprocity? - Evidence from gift-exchange games in the lab," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224592, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Fortuna Casoria & Arno Riedl, 2013. "Experimental Labor Markets And Policy Considerations: Incomplete Contracts And Macroeconomic Aspects," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 398-420, July.
    10. Bejarano, Hernán & Corgnet, Brice & Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín, 2021. "Economic stability promotes gift-exchange in the workplace," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 374-398.
    11. Gagnon, Nickolas & Noussair, C., 2016. "Does Reciprocity Persist Over Time?," Research Memorandum 033, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    12. Lin, Chung-Cheng & Yang, C.C., 2010. "Reciprocity and downward wage rigidity," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1155-1168, December.
    13. Dariel, A. & Riedl, A.M., 2013. "Reciprocal preferences and the unraveling of gift-exchange," Research Memorandum 034, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    14. Cao, Cangjian & Li, Sherry Xin & Liu, Tracy Xiao, 2020. "A gift with thoughtfulness: A field experiment on work incentives," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 17-42.
    15. Sebastian Kube & Michel André Maréchal & Clemens Puppe, 2013. "Do Wage Cuts Damage Work Morale? Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 853-870, August.
    16. Cardella, Eric & Roomets, Alex, 2022. "Pay distribution preferences and productivity effects: An experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    17. Constança Esteves-Sorenson, 2018. "Gift Exchange in the Workplace: Addressing the Conflicting Evidence with a Careful Test," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(9), pages 4365-4388, September.
    18. Kocher, Martin G. & Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Sutter, Matthias, 2012. "Testing a forgotten aspect of Akerlof’s gift exchange hypothesis: Relational contracts with individual and uniform wages," Discussion Papers in Economics 12816, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    19. Gächter, Simon & Thöni, Christian, 2010. "Social comparison and performance: Experimental evidence on the fair wage-effort hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 531-543, December.
    20. Nickolas Gagnon & Kristof Bosmans & Arno Riedl, 2020. "The Effect of Unfair Chances and Gender Discrimination on Labor Supply," CESifo Working Paper Series 8058, CESifo.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gift exchange; employer-worker relationship; pay inequality; field experiment; reciprocity; labor market; effort provision; fairness; wage inequality;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkwp:2199. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/iwkiede.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.