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Cross-task spillovers in workplace teams: Motivation vs. learning

Steven Jacob Bosworth () and Simon Bartke
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Steven Jacob Bosworth: Department of Economics, University of Reading,
Simon Bartke: M. M. Warburg & CO (AG & Co.) KGaA

No em-dp2019-15, Economics Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, Reading University

Abstract: We study an experimental setting designed to measure non-strategic behavioural spillovers and elucidate their mechanisms. In our setup a principal can observe the individual efforts of two agents in one task but can only observe team effort in another. We vary the availability of piece rate, tournament, team piece rate, and fixed wage contracts for the individually observable task while holding fixed the use of a team pay contract for the task where only team output is observable. We find tournament incentives unexpectedly induce high voluntary effort in the unobservable task, but that this is exclusively driven by cross-task advantageous learning overriding its deleterious effects on pro-social motivation. We therefore see our study as integrating diverse findings into a coherent explanation: Competitive incentives crowd out pro-social motivation, team incentives promote pro-social motivation, but setting a high effort precedent may be more important when employees perceive tasks as related.

Keywords: motivation; learning; multi-tasking; cooperation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C57 C92 D83 M52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 35 pages
Date: 2019-08-31
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cta, nep-exp, nep-hrm, nep-lab and nep-ure
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