Employee Treatment and Contracting with Bank Lenders: An Instrumental Approach for Stakeholder Management
Journal of Business Ethics,
Adopting an instrumental approach for stakeholder management, we focus on two primary stakeholder groups (employees and creditors) to investigate the relationship between employee treatment and loan contracts with banks. We find strong evidence that fair employee treatment reduces loan price and limits the use of financial covenants. In addition, we document that relationship bank lenders price both the levels and changes in the quality of employee treatment, whereas first-time bank lenders only care about the levels of fair employee treatment. Taking a contingency perspective, we find that industry competition and firm asset intangibility moderate the relationship between good human resource management and bank loan costs. The cost reduction effect of fair employee treatment is stronger for firms operating in a more competitive industry and having higher levels of intangible assets.
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Population and labour market
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31.07.2018 • 16/2018
Fairness pays off
When companies arbitrarily cut their wages, the motivation and productivity of the employees decrease – this is clear. Less obvious, however: employees also become less productive even if it is their colleagues who are treated unfairly and not them. This was confirmed by a research group led by Sabrina Jeworrek at the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association.
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Measuring Indirect Effects of Unfair Employer Behavior on Worker Productivity – A Field Experiment
IWH Discussion Papers,
We present a field experiment in which we set up a call-center to study how the productivity of workers is affected if managers treat their co-workers in an unfair way. This question cannot be studied in long-lived organizations since workers may change their career expectations (and hence effort) when managers behave unfairly towards co-workers. In order to rule out such confounds and to measure productivity changes of unaffected workers in a clean way, we create an environment where employees work for two shifts. In one treatment, we lay off parts of the workforce before the second shift. Compared to two different control treatments, we find that, in the layoff treatment, the productivity of the remaining, unaffected workers drops by 12 percent. We show that this result is not driven by peer effects or altered beliefs about the job or the managers’ competence, but rather related to the workers’ perception of unfair behavior of employers towards co-workers. The latter interpretation is confirmed in a survey among professional HR managers. We also show that the effect of unfair behavior on the productivity of unaffected workers is close to the upper bound of the direct effects of wage cuts on the productivity of affected workers. This suggests that the price of an employer’s unfair behavior goes well beyond the potential tit-for-tat of directly affected workers.
The Behavioral Impact of Non-Monetary Workplace Characteristics
Schriftenreihe innovative betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung und Praxis,
This book investigates the impact of non-monetary workplace characteristics ― i.e. employee voice, task characteristics, and the provision of information ― on workers’ individual decision making and workplace performance. Given the neoclassical assumption of purely self-interested and completely rational utility maximizing individuals, workplace characteristics should be of little interest as long as they are not directly related to payment issues, so that a worker’s utility maximizing effort choice given a fixed wage level remains unaffected. Recent empirical findings, however, suggest that the use of non-monetary incentives might even be the better option to increase work performance. Three out of the four experimental studies covered by this book extend the previous research by providing more reliable insights into field behavior than conventional laboratory experiments. Given e.g. the right to self-determine one’s wage, almost all participants in the laboratory opt for the highest possible wage. Within the context of an inventory taking with 140 assistants, we conducted a natural field experiment and show that most workers ask for rather moderate wages with women being particularly conservative in their demands. Notwithstanding, wage delegation causes workers’ performance to rise and, hence, stresses the relevance of voice at the workplace. Furthermore, we provide evidence that workers also care for the content and the meaningfulness of their tasks. Uselessly exerted effort, for instance, reduces work performance as regards a completely unrelated task in the future. Taken together, the field experimental evidence presented in this book indicates that if employees find a workplace which matches their preferences, it is quite likely to be a beneficial situation not only for the employee but also for the employer. Overall good working conditions can even help workers overlook unequal treatments within the workforce, at least in the short-run and as long as there is a plausible reason for it. An additional laboratory experiment, however, suggests that additional information, e.g. about potential coworkers, might be necessary to make reasonable decisions in accordance with individual preferences.