NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

WORKER RESPONSES TO SHIRKING UNDER SHARED CAPITALISM

Richard Freeman, Douglas Kruse, Joseph Blasi

NBER Working Paper No. 14227
Issued in August 2008
NBER Program(s):   LS

Group incentive systems have to overcome the free rider or 1/N problem, which gives workers an incentive to shirk, if they are to succeed. This paper uses new questions on responses to shirking from the General Social Survey and a special NBER survey of workers at over 300 worksites in 14 companies that have some form of group incentive pay to examine how well workers can monitor their peers and what they do when the peers are not working up to speed. The paper finds that: 1) most workers say that they can detect fellow employees who shirk; 2) many report that they would speak to the shirker or report the behavior or a supervisor, and many report that they did so in the past; 3) the proportion that takes action against shirkers is greatest among workers paid under group incentive systems, in smaller companies, and in companies with good employee-management relations; 4) group incentives interact with high-performance human resource policies such as employee involvement teams, training, task variety, low levels of supervision, and good fixed wages to induce more workers to act against shirking; 5) workers in workplaces where there is more anti-shirking behavior report that co-workers work harder, encourage other workers more, and report that their workplace facility is more effective in ways that should raise productivity and profits.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14227

Published: Worker Responses to Shirking under Shared Capitalism, Richard B. Freeman, Douglas L. Kruse, Joseph R. Blasi. in Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit and Gain Sharing, and Broad-based Stock Options , Kruse, Freeman, and Blasi. 2010

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