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
“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.
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.
Measuring the Indirect Effects of Adverse Employer Behaviour on Worker Productivity – A Field Experiment
in: Economic Journal, No. 632, 2020
We conduct a field experiment to study how worker productivity is affected if employers act adversely towards their co-workers. Our employees work for two shifts in a call centre. In our main treatment, we lay off some workers before the second shift. Compared to two control treatments, we find that the lay-off reduces the productivity of unaffected workers by 12%. We find suggestive evidence that this result is not driven by altered beliefs about the job or the management’s competence, but caused by the workers’ perception of unfair employer behaviour. The latter interpretation is confirmed in a prediction experiment with professional HR managers. Our results suggest that the price for adverse employer behaviour goes well beyond the potential tit for tat of directly affected workers.
Wage Delegation in the Field
in: Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, No. 4, 2019
By conducting a natural field experiment, we analyze the managerial policy of delegating the wage choice to employees. We find that this policy enhances performance significantly, which is remarkable since allocated wage premiums of the same size have no effect at all. Observed self‐imposed wage restraints and absence of negative peer effects speak in favor of wage delegation, although the chosen wage premium levels severely dampen its net value. Additional experimental and survey data provide important insights into employees' underlying motivations.
Gender Stereotypes still in MIND: Information on Relative Performance and Competition Entry
in: Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, October 2019
By conducting a laboratory experiment, I test whether the gender tournament gap diminishes in its size after providing information on the relative performance of the two genders. Indeed, the gap shrinks sizeably, it even becomes statistically insignificant. Hence, individuals’ entry decisions seem to be driven not only by incorrect self-assessments in general but also by incorrect stereotypical beliefs about the genders’ average abilities. Overconfident men opt less often for the tournament and, thereby, increase their expected payoff. Overall efficiency, however, is not affected by the intervention.
Where to Go? High-skilled Individuals’ Regional Preferences
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 27, 2022
We conduct a discrete choice experiment to investigate how the location of a firm in a rural or urban region affects job attractiveness and contributes to the spatial sorting of university students and graduates. We characterize the attractiveness of a location based on several dimensions (social life, public infrastructure, connectivity) and combine this information with an urban or rural attribution. We also vary job design as well as contractual characteristics of the job. We find that job offers from companies in rural areas are generally considered less attractive. This is true regardless of the attractiveness of the region. The negative perception is particularly pronounced among persons with urban origin and singles. These persons rate job offers from rural regions significantly worse. In contrast, high-skilled individuals who originate from rural areas as well as individuals with partners and kids have no specific preference for jobs in urban or rural areas.
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.