NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Stephan Meier

Graduate School of Business
Columbia University
3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
Tel: 212/851-1801

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NBER Program Affiliations: AG
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2017Intentions for Doing Good Matter for Doing Well: The (Negative) Signaling Value of Prosocial Incentives
with Lea Cassar: w24109
Prosocial incentives and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are seen by many firms as an effective way to motivate workers. Recent empirical results seem to support the expectation that prosocial incentive, e.g. in the form of a charitable donations by the firm, can increase effort and motivation – sometimes even better than monetary incentives. We argue that the benefits crucially depend on the perceived intention of the firm. Workers use prosocial incentives as a signal about the firm's type and if used instrumentally in order to profit the firm, they can backfire. We show in an experiment in collaboration with an Italian firm, that monetary and prosocial incentives work very differently. While monetary incentives used instrumentally increase effort, instrumental charitabl...
September 2012Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device
with Felipe Kast, Dina Pomeranz: w18417
We test the effectiveness of self-help peer groups as a commitment device for precautionary savings, through two randomized field experiments among 2,687 microentrepreneurs in Chile. The first experiment finds that self-help peer groups are a powerful tool to increase savings (the number of deposits grows 3.5-fold and the average savings balance almost doubles). Conversely, a substantially higher interest rate has no effect on most participants. A second experiment tests an alternative delivery mechanism and shows that effects of a similar size can be achieved by holding people accountable through feedback text messages, without any meetings or peer pressure.
 
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