NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Motivating Effort In Contributing to Public Goods Inside Organizations: Field Experimental Evidence

Andrea Blasco, Olivia S. Jung, Karim R. Lakhani, Michael Menietti

NBER Working Paper No. 22189
Issued in April 2016
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

We investigate the factors driving workers’ decisions to generate public goods inside an organization through a randomized solicitation of workplace improvement proposals in a medical center with 1200 employees. We find that pecuniary incentives, such as winning a prize, generate a threefold increase in participation compared to non-pecuniary incentives alone, such as prestige or recognition. Participation is also increased by a solicitation appealing to improving the workplace. However, emphasizing the patient mission of the organization led to countervailing effects on participation. Overall, these results are consistent with workers having multiple underlying motivations to contribute to public goods inside the organization consisting of a combination of pecuniary and altruistic incentives associated with the mission of the organization.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22189

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