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No margin, no mission?: a field experiment on incentives for pro-social tasks

Ashraf, Nava, Bandiera, Oriana and Jack, Kelsy (2012) No margin, no mission?: a field experiment on incentives for pro-social tasks. Discussion paper (8834). Centre for Economic Policy Research (Great Britain), London, UK.

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A substantial body of research investigates the design of incentives in firms, yet less is known about incentives in organizations that hire individuals to perform tasks with positive social spillovers. We conduct a field experiment in which agents hired by a public health organization are randomly allocated to four groups. Agents in the control group receive a standard volunteer contract often offered for this type of task, whereas agents in the three treatment groups receive small financial rewards, large financial rewards, and non-financial rewards, respectively. The analysis yields three main findings. First, non-financial rewards are more effective at eliciting effort than either financial rewards or the volunteer contract. The effect of financial rewards, both large and small, is much smaller and not significantly different from zero. Second, non-financial rewards elicit effort both by leveraging intrinsic motivation for the cause and by facilitating social comparison among agents. Third, contrary to existing laboratory evidence, financial incentives do not crowd out intrinsic motivation in this setting.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 The Authors
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D8 - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty > D82 - Asymmetric and Private Information
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J3 - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs > J33 - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting > M5 - Personnel Economics > M52 - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects (stock options, fringe benefits, incentives, family support programs, seniority issues)
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O15 - Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2013 11:32
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 23:27
Funders: National Science Foundation, STICERD, 3ie, WAPPP, HBS, DFRD, Sustainability Science Program

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