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American Economic Journal: Microeconomics: Vol. 3 No. 3 (August 2011)

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Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance

Article Citation

Kosfeld, Michael, and Susanne Neckermann. 2011. "Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance." American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 3(3): 86-99.

DOI: 10.1257/mic.3.3.86

Abstract

We study the impact of status and social recognition on worker performance in a field experiment. In collaboration with an international non-governmental organization, we hired students to work on a database project. Students in the award treatment were offered a congratulatory card honoring the best performance. The award was purely symbolic to ensure that any behavioral effect is driven by non-material benefits. Our results show that the award increases performance by about 12 percent on average. The results provide strong evidence for the motivating power of status and social recognition in labor relations. (JEL C93, J33, M12, M52)

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Authors

Kosfeld, Michael (Johann Wolfgang Goethe U Frankfurt)
Neckermann, Susanne (ZEW, Mannheim and U Mannheim)

JEL Classifications

C93: Field Experiments
J33: Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
M12: Personnel Management; Executive Compensation
M52: Personnel Economics: Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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