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The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Kube & Michel Andr� Mar�chal & Clemens Puppe, 2010. "The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace," IEW - Working Papers 377, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Aug 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:377
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Field experiment; reciprocity; gift-exchange; non-monetary; inkind.;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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