nep-hrm New Economics Papers
on Human Capital and Human Resource Management
Issue of 2021‒03‒08
fourteen papers chosen by
Patrick Kampkötter
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

  1. FEMALE LEADERSHIP: EFFECTIVENESS AND PERCEPTION By Maria De Paola; Francesca Gioia; Vincenzo Scoppa
  2. Non-linear Incentives, Worker Productivity, and Firm Profits: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment By Freeman, Richard B.; Huang, Wei; Li, Teng
  3. World Management Survey at 18: Lessons and the Way Forward By Scur, Daniela; Sadun, Raffaella; Van Reenen, John; Lemos, Renata; Bloom, Nicholas
  4. Tournaments with Safeguards: A Blessing or a Curse for Women? By Zhengyang Bao; Andreas Leibbrandt
  5. Home Sweet Home: Working from home and employee performance during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK By Deole, Sumit S.; Deter, Max; Huang, Yue
  6. Gender Mix and Team Performance: Differences between Exogenously and Endogenously Formed Teams By Ainoa Aparicio Fenoll; Sarah Zaccagni
  7. Influence Activities and Bureaucratic Performance: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment in China By Alain de Janvry; Guojun He; Elisabeth Sadoulet; Shaoda Wang; Qiong Zhang
  8. Does exposure to more women in male-dominated fields render female students more career-oriented? By Bruna Borges; Fernanda Estevan
  9. Gender Differences in Reaction to Enforcement Mechanisms: A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment By Difang Huang; Zhengyang Bao
  10. Motivational Goal Bracketing with Non-rational Goals By Koch, Alexander K.; Nafziger, Julia
  11. Leadership Styles and Labor-Market Conditions By Dur, Robert; Kvaloy, Ola; Schöttner, Anja
  12. Kinks as Goals: Accelerating Commissions and the Performance of Sales Teams By Peter J. Kuhn; Lizi Yu
  13. The impact of management practices on employee productivity: a field experiment with airline captains By Gosnell, Greer K.; List, John A.; Metcalfe, Robert D.
  14. Social norms and market behavior: Evidence from a large population sample By Riehm, Tobias; Fugger, Nicolas; Gillen, Philippe; Gretschko, Vitali; Werner, Peter

  1. By: Maria De Paola (Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF, Università della Calabria); Francesca Gioia (Dipartimento di Scienze Giuridiche "Cesare Beccaria", Università di Milano); Vincenzo Scoppa (Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF, Università della Calabria)
    Abstract: We ran a field experiment to investigate whether individual performance in teams depended on the gender of the leader. About 430 students from an Italian University took an intermediate exam that was partly evaluated on the basis of teamwork. Students were randomly matched in teams of three and, in each team, we randomly chose a leader entrusted the task of coordinating the work of the team. We find a positive and significant effect of female leadership on team performance. This effect is driven by the higher performance of team members in female-led teams rather than by an improvement in leader performance, suggesting that female leaders altruistically devote their energies o improving teamwork. In spite of the higher performance of female-led teams, male members tended to evaluate female leaders as less effective, whereas female members have provided more favorable judgments.
    Keywords: Team, Leadership, Gender, Stereotypes, Randomized Experiment
    JEL: J16 M12 M54 C93
    Date: 2021–03
  2. By: Freeman, Richard B. (Harvard University); Huang, Wei (National University of Singapore); Li, Teng (National University of Singapore)
    Abstract: Using administrative data from a major Chinese insurance firm that raised its sales targets and rewards for insurance agents in a highly non-linear incentive system, we find that the improvement in productivity far outweighed the costs associated with bunching distortions and other gaming behaviors. Labor turnover decreased, which suggests that the extra pay for workers exceeded the non-pecuniary cost of extra effort by workers, and thus improved their well-being. The firm gained about two-thirds of the higher net output, making the reform profitable. Analysis of non-linear incentive systems should accordingly focus more on the productivity-enhancing than on the distortionary effects.
    Keywords: non-linear incentives, insurance commission, strategic gaming behavior, productivity, turnover rates
    JEL: J33 M52
    Date: 2021–02
  3. By: Scur, Daniela (Cornell University); Sadun, Raffaella (Harvard Business School); Van Reenen, John (MIT Sloan School of Management); Lemos, Renata (World Bank); Bloom, Nicholas (Stanford University)
    Abstract: Understanding how differences in management "best practices" affect organizational outcomes has been a focus of both theoretical and empirical work in the fields of management, sociology, economics and public policy. The World Management Survey (WMS) project was born almost two decades ago with the main goal of developing a new systematic measure of management practices being used in organisations. The WMS has contributed to a body of knowledge around how managerial structures, not just managerial talent, relates to organizational performance. Over 18 years of research, a set of consistent patterns have emerged and spurred new questions. We will present a brief overview of what we have learned in terms of measuring and understanding management practices and condense the implications of these findings for policy. We end with an outline of what we see as the path forward for both research and policy implications of this research programme.
    Keywords: management practices, policy toolkit, world management survey, productivity
    JEL: L2 M2 O14 O32 O33
    Date: 2021–02
  4. By: Zhengyang Bao; Andreas Leibbrandt
    Abstract: Workplace tournaments are one likely contributor to gender differences in labor market outcomes. Relative to men, women are often less eager to compete and thrive less under competitive pressure. We investigate a competitive workplace environment that may produce more gender-neutral outcomes: tournaments with safeguards. In our experiment, participants take part in a tournament with a real-effort task and choose whether they want to have a complementary safeguard that guarantees higher wages for the low ranked. As expected, we find that women are more likely than men to choose such a safeguard. However, obtaining a safeguard comes at a cost. On average, the safeguard causes lower performance, creates a gender wage gap, and over-proportionally disadvantages women. Thus, we provide novel evidence that easing women into tournaments can backfire.
    Keywords: Workplace tournaments, gender differences, tournament safeguards, incentive contracts
    Date: 2020–12
  5. By: Deole, Sumit S.; Deter, Max; Huang, Yue
    Abstract: In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced governments in many countries to ask employees to work from home (WFH) where possible. Using representative data from the UK, we show that increases in WFH frequency are associated with a higher self-perceived productivity per hour and an increase in weekly working hours among the employed. The WFH-productivity relationship is stronger for employees residing in regions worse affected by the pandemic and those who previously commuted longer distances, while it is weaker for mothers with childcare responsibilities. Also, we find that employees with higher autonomy over job tasks and work hours and those with childcare responsibilities worked longer hours when working from home. With prospects that WFH possibility may remain permanently open for some employees, we discuss our results' labor market policy implications.
    Keywords: Working from home,productivity,working hours,COVID-19 pandemic
    JEL: J22 J24
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Ainoa Aparicio Fenoll (ESOMAS, University of Turin); Sarah Zaccagni (CEBI, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: We conduct a randomized controlled trial to study the effect of gender composition of teams on performance, self-concept, working style, and individual satisfaction in endogenously and exogenously formed teams. We randomly divide a sample of high school students into two groups: we assign students in one group to teams of varying gender composition using random assignment and we allow the students in the other group to form teams freely. We find that students form disproportionately more male-predominant teams that those that would be formed under random assignment and that students in endogenously-formed gender-biased teams prefer even more gender-biased teams ex-post. Our results also show that female-predominant teams under-perform other types of teams but these differences disappear when teams are endogenously-formed.
    Keywords: team composition, gender, team formation, team dynamics, team performance, field experiment, decision-making
    JEL: J16 I21 I24
    Date: 2021–02–09
  7. By: Alain de Janvry (Department of. Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley); Guojun He (Division of Social Science, Division of Environment and Sustainability, Department of Economics, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.); Elisabeth Sadoulet (Department of. Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley); Shaoda Wang (Corresponding Author, Department of Economics and EPIC, University of Chicago.); Qiong Zhang (School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University of China.)
    Abstract: Subjective performance evaluation is widely used by firms and governments to provide work incentives. However, delegating evaluation power to senior leadership could induce influence activities: agents might devote much efforts to please their supervisors, rather than focusing on productive tasks that benefit their organizations. We conduct a large-scale randomized field experiment among Chinese local government employees and provide the first rigorous empirical evidence on the existence and implications of influence activities. We find that state employees are able to impose evaluator-specific influence to affect evaluation outcomes, and that this process could be partly observed by their co-workers. Furthermore, introducing uncertainty in the identity of the evaluator, which discourages evaluator-specific influence activities, can significantly improve the work performance of state employees.Keywords: Alternative data, Satellite Imagery, Asset price impact, Macroeconomic Estimates
    Keywords: subjective evaluation, civil servants, work performance, incentive, favoritism
    JEL: M12 D73 F63
    Date: 2019–09
  8. By: Bruna Borges; Fernanda Estevan
    Abstract: The underrepresentation of women in male-dominated fields of study can generate a lack of role models for female students, which may influence their career choices. This paper sheds light on this question, investigating the existence of impacts of the gender composition of instructors and peers in the Department of Economics from a selective Brazilian university. Specifically, we analyze whether having higher shares of female professors and classmates throughout undergraduate studies in Economics affects female students’ labor market outcomes. We use comprehensive administrative data from the University of Sao Paulo, containing information on students’ academic results and students’, instructors’, and course sections’ characteristics. We merge these data with Brazilian labor market and firm ownership data to obtain a broad range of career outcomes, including labor force participation, occupational choices, career progression, and wages. To overcome endogeneity issues arising from students’ self-selection into professors and peers, we exploit the random assignment of students in the first-semester classes and focus on mandatory courses. A higher representation of women in a male-dominated field, such as Economics, increases female students’ labor force participation. Moreover, larger female faculty shares increase the probability that a female student becomes a top manager. These results suggest ways to counteract the highly discussed glass ceiling in high-earning occupations. We show that students’ academic performance and elective coursechoice are not driving the effects. Instead, we find suggestive evidence that higher shares of female classmates may increase the likelihood of working during undergraduate studies, leading to stronger labor market attachment.
    Keywords: gender; economics; higher education; glass ceiling; labor market
    JEL: J16 J24 I23
    Date: 2021–02–22
  9. By: Difang Huang; Zhengyang Bao
    Abstract: We followed 58,345 borrowers from a peer-to-peer lending platform to study how females and males react to enforcement mechanisms differently. In the experiment, borrowers were randomized into treatments where they received different text messages urging for timely repayment if they had loans due the “next day”. Compared to a reminder message, the messages inducing social pressures and financial incentives reduced the overdue rate for both genders. However, females were more responsive to messages producing social pressures, while males were more responsive to financial incentives. The results imply the potential importance of a gender-dependent mechanism to enhance compliance.
    Keywords: Gender differences; Natural field experiment; Enforcement mechanism
    JEL: C93 D91 J16
    Date: 2020–12
  10. By: Koch, Alexander K. (Aarhus University); Nafziger, Julia (Aarhus University)
    Abstract: We provide a tractable model of motivational goal bracketing by a present-biased individual, extending previous work to show that the main insights from models with rational goals carry over to a setting with non-rational goals. Goals motivate because they serve as reference points that make substandard performance psychologically painful. A broad goal allows high performance in one task to compensate for low performance in the other. This partially insures against the risk of falling short of ones' goal(s), but creates incentives to shirk in one of the tasks. Narrow goals have a stronger motivational force and thus can be optimal, providing an explanation for observed instances of narrow bracketing. In particular, if one task outcome becomes known before working on the second task, narrow bracketing is always optimal.
    Keywords: non-rational goals, multiple tasks, motivational bracketing, self-control
    JEL: A12 C70 D91
    Date: 2021–02
  11. By: Dur, Robert (Erasmus University Rotterdam); Kvaloy, Ola (University of Stavanger); Schöttner, Anja (HU Berlin)
    Abstract: Why do some leaders use praise as a means to motivate workers, while other leaders use social punishment? This paper develops a simple economic model to examine how leadership styles depend on the prevailing labor-market conditions for workers. We show that the existence of a binding wage floor for workers (e.g., due to trade union wage bargaining, minimum-wage legislation, or limited-liability protection) can make it attractive for firms to hire a leader who makes use of social punishment. While the use of social punishments generally is socially inefficient, it lessens the need for high bonus pay, which allows the firm to extract rents from the worker. In contrast, firms hire leaders who provide praise to workers only if it is socially efficient to do so. Credible use of leadership styles requires either repeated interaction or a leader with the right social preferences. In a single-period setting, only moderately altruistic leaders use praise as a motivation tool, whereas only moderately spiteful leaders use social punishment. Lastly, we show that when the leaders\' and workers\' reservation utilities give rise to a bigger income gap between leaders and workers, attracting spiteful leaders becomes relatively less costly and unfriendly leadership becomes more prevalent.
    Keywords: leadership styles; incentives; motivation; social preferences; labor-market conditions; wage-setting;
    Date: 2021–02–26
  12. By: Peter J. Kuhn; Lizi Yu
    Abstract: We study the performance of small retail sales teams facing an incentive scheme that includes both a lump sum bonus and multiple accelerators (kinks where the piece rate jumps upward). Consistent with standard labor supply models, we find that the presence of an attainable bonus or kink on a work-day raises mean sales, and that sales are highly bunched at the bonus; inconsistent with those models we find that teams bunch at the kinks instead of avoiding them. Teams’ responses to the kinks are consistent with models in which the kinks are perceived as symbolic rewards, and inconsistent with reference point models where kinks induce loss aversion.
    JEL: J33 M52
    Date: 2021–02
  13. By: Gosnell, Greer K.; List, John A.; Metcalfe, Robert D.
    Abstract: Increasing evidence indicates the importance of management in determining firms’ productivity. Yet causal evidence regarding the effectiveness of management practices is scarce, especially for skilled labor in the developed world. In a field experiment measuring commercial airline captains’ productivity, we test four distinct management practices: performance monitoring, performance feedback, target setting, and prosocial incentives. These practices—particularly monitoring and target setting—significantly increase captains’ productivity on the targeted fuel-saving dimensions, with positive spillovers on job satisfaction and CO 2 emissions. The study reveals an uncharted research opportunity to delve into the black box of firms to examine the determinants of productivity among skilled labor.
    JEL: D01 J30 Q50 R40
    Date: 2020–04–01
  14. By: Riehm, Tobias; Fugger, Nicolas; Gillen, Philippe; Gretschko, Vitali; Werner, Peter
    Abstract: We test the importance of social norms for market interactions associated with negative real-world externalities in a large-scale experiment with a heterogeneous population sample from Germany. The majority of experimental participants refuses to trade, thus behaving in a moral way. Our data suggest the importance of norm conformity for the decision to trade as a significant share of buyers and sellers condition market entry on the decisions of others. Moreover, a majority of observers is willing to incur personal costs to sanction trading. Moral behavior is significantly linked to demographic characteristics and stated preferences and attitudes of the participants.
    Keywords: Markets,moral behavior,negative externalities,social norms,punishment,large population sample,experiment
    JEL: D01 D62 D64 C93
    Date: 2021

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