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
When the Meaning of Work Has Disappeared: Experimental Evidence on Employees’ Performance and Emotions
in: Management Science, No. 6, 2017
This experiment tests for a causal relationship between the meaning of work and employees’ motivation to perform well. The study builds on an existing employer–employee relationship, adding realism to the ongoing research of task meaning. Owing to an unexpected project cancelation, we are able to study how varying the information provided about the meaning of previously conducted work — without the use of deception, but still maintaining a high level of control — affects subsequent performance. We observe a strong decline in exerted effort when we inform workers about the meaninglessness of a job already done. Our data also suggests that providing a supplemental alternative meaning perfectly compensates for this negative performance effect. Individual characteristics such as reciprocal inclinations and trust prompt different reactions. The data also show that the meaning of work affects workers’ emotions, but we cannot establish a clear relationship between emotional responses and performance.
Trade Union Membership and Paid Vacation in Germany
in: IZA Journal of Labor Economics, No. 1, 2015
In Germany, dependent employees take almost 30 days of paid vacation annually. We enquire whether an individual’s trade union membership affects the duration of vacation. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for the period 1985 to 2010 and employing pooled OLS-estimators, we find that being a union member goes along with almost one additional day of vacation per year. Estimations exploiting the panel structure of our data suggest that a smaller part of this vacation differential can be due to the union membership status, while self-selection effects play a more important role.
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.
Mission, Motivation, and the Active Decision to Work for a Social Cause
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2019
The mission of a job does not only affect the type of worker attracted to an organisation, but may also provide incentives to an existing workforce. We conducted a natural field experiment with 267 short-time workers and randomly allocated them to either a prosocial or a commercial job. Our data suggest that the mission of a job itself has a performance enhancing motivational impact on particular individuals only, i.e., workers 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 15 percent. This effect seems to be a universal phenomenon which is not driven by information about the alternative job, the choice itself or a particular subgroup.
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.
“The Good News about Bad News”: Feedback about Past Organisational Failure and its Impact on Worker Productivity
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2018
Failure in organisations is a very common phenomenon. Little is known about whether past failure affects workers’ subsequent performance. We conduct a field experiment in which we follow up a failed mail campaign to attract new volunteers with a phone campaign pursuing the same goal. We recruit temporary workers to carry out the phone campaign and randomly assign them to either receive or not receive information about the previous failure and measure their performance. We find that informed workers perform better – in terms of both numbers dialed (about 14% improvement) and completed interviews (about 20% improvement) – regardless of whether they had previously worked on the failed mail campaign. Evidence from a second experiment with student volunteers asked to support a campaign to reduce food waste suggests that the mechanism behind our finding relates to contextual inference: Informing workers/volunteers that they are pursuing a goal that is hard to attain seems to add meaning to the work involved, leading them to exert more effort.