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Peer influence in the workplace: Evidence from an enterprise digital platform

Haoyuan Liu (), Wen Wen () and Andrew B. Whinston ()
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Haoyuan Liu: McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, 2110 Speedway Stop B6500, Austin, TX 78712
Wen Wen: McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, 2110 Speedway Stop B6500, Austin, TX 78712
Andrew B. Whinston: McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, 2110 Speedway Stop B6500, Austin, TX 78712

No 18-08, Working Papers from NET Institute

Abstract: We study how the broadcasting of peer success on an enterprise digital platform affects worker productivity. Using sales workers in an IT service company as our research context, we leverage the unexpected resignation of several HR staff members as an exogenous shock to the sharing of peer success and implement a difference-in-differences estimation. The empirical evidence shows that sales workers exert less effort when peer success messages are absent. We next investigate how the framing of peer success messages may generate different forms of peer influence, and particularly explore two ways of framing—messages that highlight peer’s ability (i.e., ability-based messages) and messages that highlight peer’s effort (i.e., effort-based messages). We find that although both types of peer success messages have a positive influence on worker productivity, there exists important heterogeneity. For ability-based messages, workers respond most strongly if their peers are socially close or have worse historical performance. By contrast, the effect of effort-based messages does not vary by peer characteristics.

Keywords: peer success; work effort; productivity; peer influence; online organizational communication; peer pressure; difference-in-differences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J24 L86 M54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 45 pages
Date: 2018-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eff, nep-hrm, nep-lma, nep-pay and nep-ure
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