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Peer pressure and productivity: The role of observing and being observed

Georganas, S., Tonin, M. and Vlassopoulos, M. (2015). Peer pressure and productivity: The role of observing and being observed. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 117, pp. 223-232. doi: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.06.014

Abstract

Peer effects arise in situations where workers observe each others’ work activity. In this paper, we disentangle the effect of observing a peer from that of being observed by a peer, by setting up a real effort experiment in which we manipulate the observability of performance. In particular, we randomize subjects into three groups: in the first one subjects are observed by another subject, but do not observe anybody; in the second one subjects observe somebody else's performance, but are not observed by anybody; in the last group subjects work in isolation, neither observing, nor being observed. To assess the importance of payoff externalities in the emergence of peer effects, we consider both a piece rate compensation scheme, where pay depends solely on own performance, and a team compensation scheme, where pay also depends on the performance of other team members. Overall, we find some evidence that subjects who are observed increase productivity at least initially when compensation is team based, while we find that subjects observing react to what they see when compensation is based only on own performance.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2015, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Publisher Keywords: Peer effects; Piece rate; Team incentives; Real-effort experiment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Economics
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/12714
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