Motivating Effort In Contributing to Public Goods Inside Organizations: Field Experimental Evidence
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.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the MacArthur Foundation (Opening Governance Network), NASA Tournament Lab, and the Harvard Business School Division of Faculty Research and Development. This project would not have been possible without the support of Eric Isselbacher, Julia Jackson, Maulik Majmudar and Perry Band from the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Healthcare Transformation Lab. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.