nep-hrm New Economics Papers
on Human Capital and Human Resource Management
Issue of 2019‒06‒10
nine papers chosen by
Patrick Kampkötter
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

  1. Incentivizing Learning-By-Doing: The Role of Compensation Schemes By Graff Zivin, Joshua; Kahn, Lisa B.; Neidell, Matthew
  2. Birthplace diversity and team performance By Brox, Enzo; Krieger, Tommy
  3. Returns to different forms of job related training: Factoring in informal learning By Priscilla Fialho; Glenda Quintini; Marieke Vandeweyer
  4. Birds, Birds, Birds: Co-Worker Similarity, Workplace Diversity, and Voluntary Turnover By Hirsch, Boris; Jahn, Elke J.; Zwick, Thomas
  5. Mission, motivation, and the active decision to work for a social cause By Jeworrek, Sabrina; Mertins, Vanessa
  6. Do Physicians Influence Each Other’s Performance? Evidence from the Emergency Department By Saghafian, Soroush; Imanirad, Raha; Traub, Stephen J.
  7. Determinants of Peer Selection By Lukas Kiessling; Jonas Radbruch; Sebastian Schaube
  8. Gender Differences in Competitiveness: Experimental Evidence from China By Carlsson, Fredrik; Lampi, Elina; Martinsson, Peter; Yang, Xiaojun
  9. Social Connections and the Sorting of Workers to Firms By Eliason, Marcus; Hensvik, Lena; Kramarz, Francis; Nordström Skans, Oskar

  1. By: Graff Zivin, Joshua (University of California, San Diego); Kahn, Lisa B. (Yale University); Neidell, Matthew (Columbia University)
    Abstract: In this paper, we examine the impact of pay-for-performance incentives on learning-by-doing. We exploit personnel data on fruit pickers paid under two distinct compensation contracts: a standard piece rate plan and a piece rate plan with an extra one-time bonus tied to output. Under the bonus contract, we observe bunching of performance just above the bonus threshold, suggesting workers distort their behavior in response to the discrete bonus. Such bunching behavior increases as workers gain experience. At the same time, the bonus contract induces considerable learning-by-doing for workers throughout the productivity distribution, and these improvements significantly outweigh the losses to the firm from the distortionary bunching. In contrast, under the standard piece rate contract, we find minimal evidence of bunching and only small performance improvements at the bottom of the productivity distribution. Our results suggest that contract design can help foster learning on the job. This underscores the importance of dynamic considerations in principal-agent models.
    Keywords: contracts, learning-by-doing
    JEL: J33 J43
    Date: 2019–04
  2. By: Brox, Enzo; Krieger, Tommy
    Abstract: We present a simple model to illustrate how birthplace diversity may affect team performance. The model assumes that birthplace diversity increases the stock of available knowledge due to skill complementarities and decreases effciency due to communication barriers. The consequence of these two opposing effects is a humpshaped relationship between birthplace diversity and team performance. To verify this prediction, we exploit self-collected data on the first division of German male soccer. Our data set covers 7,028 matches and includes information about 3,266 players coming from 98 countries. We propose two different instrumental variable approaches to identify the effect of birthplace diversity on team performance. Our findings suggest that an intermediate level of birthplace diversity maximizes team performance.
    Keywords: birthplace diversity,firm performance,globalization,high-skilled migration,international migration,productivity,soccer,team composition,team performance
    JEL: F23 J01 J24 M14 M54
    Date: 2019
  3. By: Priscilla Fialho; Glenda Quintini; Marieke Vandeweyer
    Abstract: This study aims at disentangling the returns to formal, non-formal and informal training and fills key knowledge gaps. Informal learning is found to be by far the most common form of job-related learning at work. Learning informally at work is found to be associated with 3.5% higher wages, on top of the wage returns of non-formal training which amount to about 11%. Work environments which apply high performance work organisation practices – i.e. where workers have more autonomy and work in teams – are found to nurture a training culture that yields high returns. Workers in these contexts are 12% more likely to experience informal learning. In addition, they also reap higher returns from the training they attend, both non-formal and informal. This suggests that HPWP may amplify the benefits of learning at work, possibly giving workers more opportunities to turn what they learn into immediate use because of the increased flexibility in organising once work.
    Keywords: informal learning, productivity, Training, wages, work organisation
    JEL: J24 J3 M54
    Date: 2019–06–04
  4. By: Hirsch, Boris (Leuphana University Lüneburg); Jahn, Elke J. (University of Bayreuth); Zwick, Thomas (University of Würzburg)
    Abstract: We investigate how the demographic composition of the workforce along the sex, nationality, education, age, and tenure dimension affects voluntary turnover. Fitting duration models for workers' job-to-job moves that control for workplace fixed effects in a representative sample of large manufacturing plants in Germany during 1975–2016, we find that larger co-worker similarity in all five dimensions substantially depresses voluntary turnover whereas workplace diversity is of limited importance. In line with conventional wisdom, which has that birds of one feather flock together, our results suggest that workers prefer having co-workers of their kind and place less value on diverse workplaces.
    Keywords: workforce demography, co-worker similarity, workplace diversity, voluntary turnover
    JEL: J63 J62 J21 J19
    Date: 2019–05
  5. By: Jeworrek, Sabrina; Mertins, Vanessa
    Abstract: The mission of a job does not only affect the type of worker attracted to an organisation, but may also provide incentives to an existing workforce. We conducted a natural field experiment with 267 short-time workers and randomly allocated them to either a prosocial or a commercial job. Our data suggest that the mission of a job itself has a performance enhancing motivational impact on particular individuals only, i.e., workers with a prosocial attitude. However, the mission is very important if it has been actively selected. Those workers who have chosen to contribute to a social cause outperform the ones randomly assigned to the same job by about 15 percent. This effect seems to be a universal phenomenon which is not driven by information about the alternative job, the choice itself or a particular subgroup.
    Keywords: active decision,cognitive dissonance theory,field experiment,mission,performance,prosocial work
    JEL: C93 D64 J33 M52 M55
    Date: 2019
  6. By: Saghafian, Soroush (Harvard Kennedy School); Imanirad, Raha (Harvard Business School); Traub, Stephen J. (Mayo Clinic Arizona)
    Abstract: Understanding potential ways through which physicians impact each other's performance can yield new insights into better management of hospitals' operations. We use evidence from Emergency Medicine to study whether and how physicians who work alongside each other during same shifts affect each other's performance. We find strong empirical evidence that physicians affect each other's speed and quality, and scheduling diverse peers during the same shift could have a positive net impact on the operations of a hospital Emergency Department (ED). Specifically, our results show that a faster (slower) peer decreases (increases) the average speed of a focal physician compared to a same-speed peer. Similarly, a higher- (lower-) quality peer decreases (increases) a focal physician's average quality. Furthermore, the presence of a less-experienced peer improves a focal physician's average speed. However, in contrast to the conventional wisdom, we do not find any evidence that more-experienced physicians can affect the performance of their less-experienced peers. We investigate various mechanisms that might be the driving force behind our findings, including psychological channels such as learning, social influence, and homophily as well as resource spillover. We identify resource spillover as the main driver of the effects we observe and show that, under high ED volumes (i.e., when the shared resources are most constrained), the magnitude of the observed effects increases. While some of these observed effects tend to be long-lived, we find that their magnitudes are fairly heterogeneous among physicians. In particular, our results show that newly-hired and/or high-performing physicians are typically more influenced than others by their peers. Finally, we draw conclusions from our results and discuss how they can be utilized by hospital administrators to improve the overall performance of physicians via better scheduling patterns and/or training programs that require physicians to work during same shifts.
    Date: 2019–05
  7. By: Lukas Kiessling; Jonas Radbruch; Sebastian Schaube
    Abstract: Peers influence behavior in many domains. We study whom individuals choose as peers and explore individual determinants of peer selection. Using data from a framed field experiment at secondary schools, we analyze how peer choices depend on relative performance, personality differences, and the presence of friendship ties. Our results document systematic patterns of peer choice: friendship is the most important determinant, albeit not the only one. Individuals exhibit homophily in personality, and prefer on average similar but slightly stronger performing peers. Our results help to rationalize models of differential and non-linear peer effects and to understand reference group formation.
    Keywords: Peer Effects, Peer Selection, Social Comparison, Reference Points
    JEL: C93 D01 D03 J24 L23
    Date: 2019–05
  8. By: Carlsson, Fredrik (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Lampi, Elina (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Martinsson, Peter (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Yang, Xiaojun (School of Public Policy and Administration, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, China)
    Abstract: Experimental evidence from both the lab and the field shows that women on average have a lower propensity to enter a competitive environment. In this paper, we investigate gender differences in competitiveness using a lab-in-the-field experiment and a subject pool consisting of Chinese adults. China provides an interesting environment to study in this regard since the country has promoted gender equality for a long time and the gender gap in earnings is small in a cross-country comparison. However, in many respects, China is still a patriarchal society. Our experimental results show that women perform equally well as men in a piece-rate task and significantly better in a competitive payment environment. Despite this, men are more than twice as likely to voluntarily choose a competitive environment. This gender difference cannot be explained by differences in risk preferences or overconfidence.
    Keywords: Competition; Gender Difference; Experiments; China
    JEL: C91 D03 D10 I31 P30
    Date: 2019–06
  9. By: Eliason, Marcus (IFAU); Hensvik, Lena (IFAU); Kramarz, Francis (CREST (ENSAE)); Nordström Skans, Oskar (Uppsala University)
    Abstract: The literature on social networks often presumes that job search through (strong) social ties leads to increased inequality by providing privileged individuals with access to more attractive labor market opportunities. We assess this presumption in the context of sorting between AKM-style person and establishment fixed effects. Our rich Swedish register data allow us to measure connections between agents – workers to workers and workers to firms – through parents, children, siblings, spouses, former co-workers and classmates from high school/college, and current neighbors. In clear contrast with the above presumption, there is less sorting inequality among the workers hired through social networks. This outcome results from opposing factors. On the one hand, reinforcing positive sorting, high-wage job seekers are shown to have social connections to high-wage workers, and therefore to high-wage firms (because of sorting of workers over firms). Furthermore, connections have a causal impact on the allocation of workers across workplaces – employers are much more likely to hire displaced workers to whom they are connected through their employees, in particular if their social ties are strong. On the other hand, attenuating positive sorting, the (causal) impact is much stronger for low-wage firms than it is for high-wage firms, irrespective of the type of worker involved, even conditional on worker fixed effects. The lower degree of sorting among connected hires thus arises because low-wage firms use their (relatively few) connections to high-wage workers to hire workers of a type that they are unable to attract through market channels.
    Keywords: networks, job search, job displacement, hiring
    JEL: J60 J30 J23
    Date: 2019–04

This nep-hrm issue is ©2019 by Patrick Kampkötter. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.