Organisational Behaviour and Corporate Success
This research group analyzes how non-monetary workplace characteristics (such as voice at the workplace or the perceived meaningfulness of the task) and managerial decision-making (e.g. as regards layoffs) influences the work motivation of employees. From a methodological persepective, the group focuses on conducting (field) experiments. First, such experiments allow us to obtain clean performance measures. Second, and more important, holding all things equal for every participating individual except for the treatment of interest, any change in workers’ performance can be put down to the experimenter’s intervention.
Research ClusterInstitutions and Social Norms
Paid Vacation Use: The Role of Works Councils
in: Economic and Industrial Democracy, forthcoming
The article investigates the relationship between codetermination at the plant level and paid vacation in Germany. From a legal perspective, works councils have no impact on vacation entitlements, but they can affect their use. Employing data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), the study finds that male employees who work in an establishment, in which a works council exists, take almost two additional days of paid vacation annually, relative to employees in an establishment without such institution. The effect for females is much smaller, if discernible at all. The data suggest that this gender gap might be due to the fact that women exploit vacation entitlements more comprehensively than men already in the absence of a works council.
The Urban Wage Premium in Imperfect Labour Markets
in: Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming
Using administrative data for West Germany, this paper investigates whether part of the urban wage premium stems from greater competition in denser labor markets. We show that employers possess less wage-setting power in denser markets. We further document that an important part of the observed urban wage premia can be explained by greater competition in denser labor markets.
Mission, Motivation, and the Active Decision to Work for a Social Cause
in: Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, forthcoming
The mission of a job affects the type of worker attracted to an organization but may also provide incentives to an existing workforce. We conducted a natural field experiment with 246 short-term workers. We randomly allocated some of these workers to either a prosocial or a commercial job. Our data suggest that the mission of a job has a performance-enhancing motivational impact on particular individuals only, those with a prosocial attitude. However, the mission is very important if it has been actively selected. Those workers who have chosen to contribute to a social cause outperform the ones randomly assigned to the same job by about half a standard deviation. This effect seems to be a universal phenomenon that is not driven by information about the alternative job, the choice itself, or a particular subgroup.
Unethical Employee Behavior Against Coworkers Following Unkind Management Treatment: An Experimental Analysis
in: Managerial and Decision Economics, No. 5, 2021
We study unethical behavior toward unrelated coworkers as a response to managerial unkindness with two experiments. In our lab experiment, we do not find that subjects who experienced unkindness are more likely to cheat in a subsequent competition against another coworker who simultaneously experienced mistreatment. A subsequent survey experiment suggests that behavior in the lab can be explained by individuals' preferences for norm adherence, because unkind management behavior does not alter the perceived moral appropriateness of cheating. However, having no shared experience of managerial unkindness opens up some moral wiggle room for employees to misbehave at the costs of others.
"The good news about bad news": Information about Past Organizational Failure and Its Impact on Worker Productivity
in: Leadership Quarterly, No. 3, 2021
Failure in organizations is very common. Little is known about whether leaders should provide information about past organizational failure to followers and how this might affect their future performance. We conducted a field experiment in which we recruited temporary workers to carry out a phone campaign to attract new volunteers and randomly assigned them to either receive or not to receive information about a failed mail campaign pursuing the same goal. We find that informed workers performed better, regardless of whether they had previously worked on the failed mail campaign or not. Evidence from a second field experiment with students asked to support voluntarily a campaign for reducing food waste corroborates the finding. We explore the role of leadership tactics behind our findings in a third online survey experiment. We conclude that information about past failure is unlikely to have a negative impact on work performance, and might even lead to performance improvement. Implications for future research on the relevance of leadership tactics when giving such information are discussed.
Alone at Home: The Impact of Social Distancing on Norm-consistent Behavior
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 8, 2021
Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned daily live upside down since social distancing is probably the most effective means of containing the virus until herd immunity is reached. Social norms have been shown to be an important determinant of social distancing behaviors. By conducting two experiments and using the priming method to manipulate social isolation recollections, we study whether social distancing has in turn affected norms of prosociality and norm compliance. The normative expectations of what behaviors others would approve or disapprove in our experimental setting did not change. Looking at actual behavior, however, we find that persistent social distancing indeed caused a decline in prosociality – even after the relaxation of social distancing rules and in times of optimism. At the same time, our results contain some good news since subjects seem still to care for norms and become more prosocial once again after we draw their attention to the empirical norm of how others have previously behaved in a similar situation.
Gift-exchange in Society and the Social Integration of Refugees: Evidence from a Field, a Laboratory, and a Survey Experiment
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 17, 2019
Refugee integration requires broad support from the host society, but only a minority of the host population is actively engaged. Given that most individuals reciprocate kind behaviour, we examine the idea that the proportion of supporters will increase as a reciprocal response to refugees’ contributions to society through volunteering. Our nationwide survey experiment shows that citizens’ intentions to contribute time and money rise significantly when they learn about refugees’ pro-social activities. Importantly, this result holds for individuals who have not been in contact with refu-gees. We complement this investigation with experiments in the lab and the field that confirm our findings for actual behaviour.
Crowdsourced Innovation: How Community Managers Affect Crowd Activities
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 13, 2018
In this study, we investigate whether and to what extent community managers in online collaborative communities can stimulate crowd activities through their engagement. Using a novel data set of 22 large online idea crowdsourcing campaigns, we find that active engagement of community managers positively affects crowd activities in an inverted U-shaped manner. Moreover, we evidence that intellectual stimulation by managers increases community participation, while individual consideration of users has no impact on user activities. Finally, the data reveal that community manager activities that require more effort, such as media file uploads instead of simple written comments, have a larger effect on crowd participation.