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.
Measuring the Indirect Effects of Adverse Employer Behavior 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.
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.