“The Good News about Bad News”: Feedback about Past Organisational Failure and its Impact on Worker Productivity
IWH Discussion Papers,
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.
Arbeit ohne Sinn gefährdet die Produktivität
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
Arbeit ohne Sinn ruft nicht nur negative Emotionen wie Enttäuschung oder das Gefühl, ersetzbar zu sein, hervor; vielmehr wird auch die zukünftige Arbeitsmotivation der Beschäftigten beeinflusst. Eine experimentelle Studie, die auf einer realen Arbeitssituation beruht, zeigt, dass Beschäftigte einen signifikant niedrigeren Arbeitseinsatz leisten, wenn ein vorangegangenes Projekt seinen ursprünglichen Sinn verloren hat. Die Information, dass das Projekt auch einen alternativen Zweck erfüllte, kompensiert die negativen Effekte allerdings vollständig, sowohl was den Arbeitseinsatz als auch den emotionalen Zustand der Beschäftigten angeht. Unternehmen und Personalverantwortliche sollten daher die Sinnhaftigkeit von Arbeitsaufgaben klar an ihre Beschäftigten kommunizieren sowie versuchen, auch gescheiterten Projekten eine Sinnhaftigkeit beizumessen.
Meaningless Work Threatens Job Performance
LSE Business Review,
Open, transparent communication across the organisation is generally associated with improved employee motivation and organisational outcomes. For supervisors, the question arises how to deal with rather inconvenient information, such as in the case of a project failure. Informing employees after significant investments of time and effort might lead to negative effects on subsequent work motivation, one could argue. To identify a causal relationship between the meaning of previously completed work and workers’ subsequent work performance, we exploited a natural working environment in which the loss of the job’s meaning occurred as a matter of fact. At the same time, it was possible to credibly guide only part of the workforce to believe in the sudden loss of meaning by conducting a controlled experiment.
Spinoffs in Germany: Characteristics, Survival, and the Role of their Parents
Small Business Economics,
Using a 50 % sample of all private sector establishments in Germany, we report that spinoffs are larger, initially employ more skilled and more experienced workers, and pay higher wages than other startups. We investigate whether spinoffs are more likely to survive than other startups, and whether spinoff survival depends on the quality and size of their parent companies, as suggested in some of the theoretical and empirical literature. Our estimated survival models confirm that spinoffs are generally less likely to exit than other startups. We also distinguish between pulled spinoffs, where the parent company continues after they are founded, and pushed spinoffs, where the parent company stops operations. Our results indicate that in western and eastern Germany and in all sectors investigated, pulled spinoffs have a higher probability of survival than pushed spinoffs. Concerning the parent connection, we find that intra-industry spinoffs and spinoffs emerging from better-performing or smaller parent companies are generally less likely to exit.
Distance and International Banking
Review of International Economics,
This paper asks how important distance is as a determinant of international banking and whether distance has become less important over time. If technological progress has lowered information costs and if information costs increase in distance, the importance of distance should have declined. I use data on assets and liabilities of commercial banks from five countries (France, Germany, Italy, UK, and US) in 50 host countries for the years 1983–99 to test this hypothesis. Generally, I find that banks hold significantly lower assets in distant markets and that the importance of distance for the foreign asset holdings of banks has not changed.