Awards Unbundled: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

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Awards Unbundled: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

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Title: Awards Unbundled: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment
Author: Ashraf, Nava; Bandiera, Oriana; Lee, Scott Sang-Hyun

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Citation: Ashraf, Nava, Oriana Bandiera, and Scott S. Lee. "Awards Unbundled: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 100 (April 2014): 44–63.
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Abstract: Organizations often use non-monetary awards to incentivize performance. Awards may affect behavior through several mechanisms: by conferring employer recognition, by enhancing social visibility, and by facilitating social comparison. In a nationwide health worker training program in Zambia, we design a field experiment to unbundle these mechanisms. We find that employer recognition and social visibility increase performance while social comparison reduces it, especially for low-ability trainees. These effects appear when treatments are announced and persist through training. The findings are consistent with a model of optimal expectations in which low-ability individuals exert low effort in order to avoid information about their relative ability.
Published Version: DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2014.01.001
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at
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