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The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace

  • Sebastian Kube
  • Michel André Maréchal
  • 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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