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Awards unbundled: evidence from a natural field experiment

Ashraf, Nava, Bandiera, Oriana and Lee, Scott S. (2014) Awards unbundled: evidence from a natural field experiment. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 100. pp. 44-63. ISSN 0167-2681

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jebo.2014.01.001


Organizations often use non-monetary awards to incentivize performance. Awards may affect behavior through several mechanisms: by conferring employer recognition, by enhancing social visibility, and by facilitating social comparison. In a nationwide health worker training program in Zambia, we design a field experiment to unbundle these mechanisms. We find that employer recognition and social visibility increase performance while social comparison reduces it, especially for low-ability trainees. These effects appear when treatments are announced and persist through training. The findings are consistent with a model of optimal expectations in which low-ability individuals exert low effort in order to avoid information about their relative ability.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Elsevier B. V.
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D8 - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty > D83 - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief
D - Microeconomics > D8 - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty > D84 - Expectations; Speculations
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: 03 Mar 2015 12:30
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:12
Funders: International Growth Centre

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