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Pro-social missions and worker motivation: an experimental study


Fehrler, Sebastian; Kosfeld, Michael (2014). Pro-social missions and worker motivation: an experimental study. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 100:99-110.

Abstract

Do employees work harder if their job has the right mission? In a laboratory labor market experiment, we test whether subjects provide higher effort if they can choose the mission of their job. We observe that subjects do not provide higher effort than in a control treatment. Surprised by this finding, we run a second experiment in which subjects can choose whether they want to work on a job with their preferred mission or not. A subgroup of agents (roughly one third) is willing to do so even if this option is more costly than choosing the alternative job. Moreover, we find that these subjects provide substantially higher effort. These results suggest that some workers can be motivated by missions and that selection into mission-oriented organizations is an important factor to explain empirical findings of lower wages and high motivation in these organizations.

Abstract

Do employees work harder if their job has the right mission? In a laboratory labor market experiment, we test whether subjects provide higher effort if they can choose the mission of their job. We observe that subjects do not provide higher effort than in a control treatment. Surprised by this finding, we run a second experiment in which subjects can choose whether they want to work on a job with their preferred mission or not. A subgroup of agents (roughly one third) is willing to do so even if this option is more costly than choosing the alternative job. Moreover, we find that these subjects provide substantially higher effort. These results suggest that some workers can be motivated by missions and that selection into mission-oriented organizations is an important factor to explain empirical findings of lower wages and high motivation in these organizations.

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14 citations in Web of Science®
13 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Motivation, Sorting, Labor, Effort, Organization, Non-monetary incentives, NGOs
Language:English
Date:April 2014
Deposited On:27 Nov 2014 15:12
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 08:26
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0167-2681
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2014.01.010
Related URLs:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016726811400016X#MMCvFirst (Publisher)

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