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The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace

  • Kube, Sebastian
  • Maréchal, Michel André
  • Puppe, Clemens

What determines reciprocity in employment relations? We conducted a controlled field experiment to measure the extent to which monetary and non-monetary gifts affect workers' performance. We find that nonmonetary gifts have a much stronger impact than monetary gifts of equivalent value. We also observe that when workers are offered the choice, they prefer receiving the money but reciprocate as if they received a nonmonetary gift. This result is consistent with the common saying, 'it's the thought that counts.' We underline this point by showing that also monetary gifts can effectively trigger reciprocity if the employer invests more time and effort into the gift's presentation.

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Paper provided by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering in its series Working Paper Series in Economics with number 25.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:kitwps:25
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