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Does Pay Motivate Volunteers?

Author

Listed:
  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Lorenz Goette

Abstract

Volunteer work is an increasingly large, yet ill-understood sector of the economy. We show that monetary rewards undermine the intrinsic motivation of volunteers. A unique data set from Switzerland allows us to assess the effects of financial rewards on the effort put into volunteer work. There is a fairly standard pattern regarding the volunteers reaction e.g. to more labor market work hours. But we obtain the puzzling result that, when rewarded, volunteers work less. These findings are in line with a large literature in social psychology emphasizing that external rewards can undermine the intrinsic motivation for an activity. We show the implications for public policy towards volunteering.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & Lorenz Goette, "undated". "Does Pay Motivate Volunteers?," IEW - Working Papers 007, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:007
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    File URL: https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/51825/1/iewwp007.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Brown, Eleanor & Lankford, Hamilton, 1992. "Gifts of money and gifts of time estimating the effects of tax prices and available time," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 321-341, April.
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    3. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-755, September.
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    7. Bruno S. Frey, 1992. "Tertium Datur: Pricing, Regulating and Intrinsic Motivation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 161-184, May.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Volunteer Work; Crowding-Out; Intrinsic Motivation; Price Incentives.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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