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The currency of reciprocity: Gift exchange in the workplace


Kube, Sebastian; Maréchal, Michel; Puppe, Clemens (2012). The currency of reciprocity: Gift exchange in the workplace. American Economic Review, 102(4):1644-1662.

Abstract

What determines reciprocity in employment relations? We conducteda controlled field experiment to measure the extent to whichmonetary and non-monetary gifts affect workers’ performance. We findthat non-monetary gifts have a much stronger impact than monetarygifts of equivalent value. We also observe that when workers are offeredthe choice, they prefer receiving money but reciprocate as if theyreceived a non-monetary gift. This result is consistent with the commonsaying, “it’s the thought that counts”. We underline this point byshowing that also monetary gifts can effectively trigger reciprocity ifthe employer invests more time and effort into the gift’s presentation.

Abstract

What determines reciprocity in employment relations? We conducteda controlled field experiment to measure the extent to whichmonetary and non-monetary gifts affect workers’ performance. We findthat non-monetary gifts have a much stronger impact than monetarygifts of equivalent value. We also observe that when workers are offeredthe choice, they prefer receiving money but reciprocate as if theyreceived a non-monetary gift. This result is consistent with the commonsaying, “it’s the thought that counts”. We underline this point byshowing that also monetary gifts can effectively trigger reciprocity ifthe employer invests more time and effort into the gift’s presentation.

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56 citations in Web of Science®
65 citations in Scopus®
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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:2012
Deposited On:16 Feb 2012 07:44
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 11:29
Publisher:American Economic Association
ISSN:0002-8282
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.102.4.1644
Related URLs:http://www.aeaweb.org/forthcoming/output/accepted_AER.php
http://www.zora.uzh.ch/51504/
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:4162

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