UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Fair wages and effort: Evidence from a field experiment


Cohn, Alain; Fehr, Ernst; Goette, Lorenz (2015). Fair wages and effort: Evidence from a field experiment. Management Science, 61(8):1777-1794.

Abstract

The presence of workers who reciprocate higher wages with greater effort can have important consequences for firms and labor markets. Knowledge about the extent and determinants of reciprocal effort choices is, however, incomplete. We investigate the role of fairness perceptions and social preferences in a field experiment in which workers were hired for a one-time job. We show that workers who perceive being underpaid at the base wage increase their performance if the hourly wage increases, whereas those who feel adequately paid or overpaid at the base wage do not change their performance. Moreover, we find that only the workers who display reciprocity in a choice experiment show reciprocal effort responses in the field. The workers who lack reciprocity in the choice experiment do not respond to the wage increase, even if they feel underpaid at the base wage. Our findings suggest that fairness perceptions and social preferences are key in workers' performance response to wage increases. In our study, the wage increase affects effort mainly through the removal of perceived unfairness, i.e., the elimination of negative reciprocity toward the firm, rather than positive reciprocity. These results are the first direct evidence of the fair-wage effort hypothesis in the field and also help interpret previous contradictory findings in the literature.

Abstract

The presence of workers who reciprocate higher wages with greater effort can have important consequences for firms and labor markets. Knowledge about the extent and determinants of reciprocal effort choices is, however, incomplete. We investigate the role of fairness perceptions and social preferences in a field experiment in which workers were hired for a one-time job. We show that workers who perceive being underpaid at the base wage increase their performance if the hourly wage increases, whereas those who feel adequately paid or overpaid at the base wage do not change their performance. Moreover, we find that only the workers who display reciprocity in a choice experiment show reciprocal effort responses in the field. The workers who lack reciprocity in the choice experiment do not respond to the wage increase, even if they feel underpaid at the base wage. Our findings suggest that fairness perceptions and social preferences are key in workers' performance response to wage increases. In our study, the wage increase affects effort mainly through the removal of perceived unfairness, i.e., the elimination of negative reciprocity toward the firm, rather than positive reciprocity. These results are the first direct evidence of the fair-wage effort hypothesis in the field and also help interpret previous contradictory findings in the literature.

Citations

4 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

1 download since deposited on 03 Nov 2014
0 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:03 Nov 2014 09:54
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:08
Publisher:Institute for Operations Research and the Management Science
ISSN:0025-1909
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2014.1970

Download

[img]
Content: Accepted Version
Filetype: PDF - Registered users only
Size: 541kB
View at publisher

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations