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The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace

  • Sebastian Kube
  • Michel Andr� Mar�chal
  • Clemens Puppe

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 non-monetary 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 money but reciprocate as if they received a non-monetary 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 Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 377.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision: Aug 2011
Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:377
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