Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Getting more Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance

Neckermann, Susanne
Volume: 3
Number: 3
Pages: 86 - 99
Month: August
ISSN-Print: 1945-7669
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2011
Keywords: Work motivation; Performance incentive; Social status; Field research; Non-governmental organization
Abstract: We study the impact of status and social recognition on worker performance in a field experiment. In collaboration with an international non-governmental organization, we hired students to work on a database project. Students in the award treatment were offered a congratulatory card honoring the best performance. The award was purely symbolic to ensure that any behavioral effect is driven by non-material benefits. Our results show that the award increases performance by about 12 percent on average. The results provide strong evidence for the motivating power of status and social recognition in labor relations.