nep-hrm New Economics Papers
on Human Capital and Human Resource Management
Issue of 2022‒08‒29
seven papers chosen by
Patrick Kampkötter
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

  1. Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM): Incentives for Productivity By Anujit Chakraborty; Guidon Fenig
  2. Work from Home Arrangements and Organizational Performance in Italian SMEs :Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic By Laura Abrardi; Elena Grinza; Allessandro Manello; Flavio Porta
  3. Industrial Robots, Workers' Safety, and Health By Rania Gihleb; Osea Giuntella; Luca Stella; Tianyi Wang
  4. Information and Communication Technology, Hierarchy, and Job Design By Elisa Gerten; Michael Beckmann; Elisa Gerten; Matthias Kräkel
  5. How Hybrid Working From Home Works Out By Nicholas Bloom; Ruobing Han; James Liang
  6. Displaced or Depressed? The Effect of Working in Automatable Jobs on Mental Health By Blasco, Sylvie; Rochut, Julie; Rouland, Benedicte
  7. Ownership Networks and Earnings Inequality By Federico Huneeus; Borja Larrain; Mauricio Larrain; Mounu Prem

  1. By: Anujit Chakraborty; Guidon Fenig (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)
    Abstract: What kind of incentives optimize a worker's motivation and performance, especially in remote work settings? We recruit online workers to work for up to 45 minutes on tedious tasks over three days. We randomly assign them to individualistic (Solo) or one of two team incentives. Under our Cooperative team incentive, workers equally share the team's earnings. Under our Competitive team incentive, the best performer gets an additional bonus proportional to the team's total productivity. We find that workers under the Cooperative team incentives are most likely to participate on all three days, exhaust all 45 minutes of work, and complete more tasks. Workers under Competitive team incentives also outperform the Solo workers, but the effect is insignificant. When workers can additionally observe their team member's effort from previous days (observability condition), they increase their own effort in response to their partner's high effort. This escalation effect is strongest under Competitive incentives, and under the observability condition, both team incentives outperform the individualistic incentive.
    JEL: C9 C72 C92 D9
    Date: 2022–08–15
  2. By: Laura Abrardi; Elena Grinza; Allessandro Manello; Flavio Porta
    Abstract: We use survey data on Italian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) collected during the COVID-19 pandemic to explore the relationship between the adoption of work from home (WFH) practices and organizational performance. In so doing, we investigate the possible underlying mechanisms, including measures of labor productivity and workers’ concentration and motivation, the level of absenteeism, the organization of work through management by objectives (MBO), and the presence of coordination and communication costs. We obtain several results. First, we find a significantly enhanced capability of firms that adopted WFH during the pandemic to sustain the overall organizational performance, particularly when such work practice is used intensively. Second, increased labor productivity and workers’ concentration and motivation, decreased absenteeism, and a substantial rise in the adoption of MBO seem to be the main drivers behind the detected benefits related to WFH. Third, when WFH is used at medium levels of intensity, it is associated with augmented coordination and communication costs, which nonetheless do not appear to overcome the benefits associated with WFH.
    Keywords: Work from home (WFH); teleworking; agile working; smart working; organizational performance; labor productivity; management by objectives (MBO); COVID-19; small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); survey data
    JEL: D23 D24 M54
    Date: 2022–08–05
  3. By: Rania Gihleb; Osea Giuntella; Luca Stella; Tianyi Wang
    Abstract: This study explores the relationship between the adoption of industrial robots and workplace injuries. Using establishment-level data on injuries, we find that a one standard deviation increase in our commuting zone-level measure of robot exposure reduces work-related annual injury rates by approximately 1.2 cases per 100 workers. US commuting zones more exposed to robot penetration experience a significant increase in drug- or alcohol-related deaths and mental health problems. Employing longitudinal data from Germany, we exploit within-individual changes in robot exposure and document that a one standard deviation change in robot exposure led to a 4% decline in physical job intensity and a 5% decline in disability, but no evidence of significant effects on mental health and work and life satisfaction.
    Keywords: robot-exposure, work-related health risks
    JEL: I10 J00
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Elisa Gerten (Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, D-50923 Cologne, Germany); Michael Beckmann (Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Basel, Peter Merian-Weg 6, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland; Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg, Germany; IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Bonn,Germany;); Elisa Gerten (Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, D-50923 Cologne, Germany); Matthias Kräkel (Department of Economics, University of Bonn, Adenauerallee 24-42, D-53113 Bonn, Germany; IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Bonn, Germany)
    Abstract: In recent decades, information and communication technology (ICT) has been associated with far-reaching changes in the design of jobs. However, it still remains unclear whether these changes will lead to more centralization or more decentralization in firms. Previous literature on this debate has focused on a strict dichotomy between the two possible directions. In contrast, our theoretical and empirical analyses show that equipping employees with ICT leads to both more centralized and more decentralized job-design policies. This finding is particularly pronounced for executive employees, who are granted more work autonomy but also experience more control via stronger monitoring, while non-executive employees only experience more monitoring without receiving more work autonomy. Our theoretical setting is based on a modified principal-agent model. In our empirical approach we apply estimation models that account for both endogeneity and essential heterogeneity, thereby exploiting exogenous geographic variation in our instrumental variable.
    Keywords: information and communication technology; centralization; decentralization; monitoring; working from home; marginal treatment effects; essential heterogeneity; instrumental variable
    JEL: D2 D86 J3 M1 M5
    Date: 2022–08
  5. By: Nicholas Bloom; Ruobing Han; James Liang
    Abstract: Hybrid working from home (WFH), whereby employees work a mix of days at home and at work each week, has become dominant for graduate employees in the US. This paper evaluates a randomized control trial on 1612 engineers, marketing and finance employees of a large technology firm that allowed odd birthday employees to WFH on Wednesday and Friday and kept even birthday employees full time in the office. There are four key results. First, WFH reduced attrition rates by 35% and improved self-reported work satisfaction scores, highlighting how employees place a considerable value on this amenity. Second, WFH reduced hours worked on home days but increased it on other work days and the weekend, highlighting how home-working alters the structure of the working week. Third, WFH employees increased individual messaging and group video call communication, even when in the office, reflecting the impact of remote work on working patterns. Finally, while there was no significant impact of WFH on performance ratings or promotions, lines of code written increased by 8%, and employees' self-assessed productivity was up 1.8%, suggesting a small positive impact. Given these benefits for retention, job satisfaction, and productivity, after the experiment ended the firm extended hybrid WFH to the entire company.
    JEL: J0
    Date: 2022–07
  6. By: Blasco, Sylvie (GAINS, Université du Maine); Rochut, Julie; Rouland, Benedicte (University of Nantes)
    Abstract: Automation may destroy jobs and change the labour demand structure, thereby potentially impacting workers' health and well-being. Using French individual survey data, we estimate the effects of working in automatable jobs on mental health. Implementing propensity score matching to solve the issue of endogenous exposure to automation risk, we find that workers whose job is at risk of automation in the future are about 4 pp more likely to suffer at present from severe mental disorders. Fear of job loss within the year and fear of qualification or occupational changes seem relevant channels to explain our findings.
    Keywords: mental health, automation, job insecurity, propensity score matching
    JEL: I10 J24
    Date: 2022–07
  7. By: Federico Huneeus; Borja Larrain; Mauricio Larrain; Mounu Prem
    Abstract: We use matched employer-employee data together with data on the ownership networks of Chilean firms to document a novel relationship between inequality in labor income and ownership structures. Exploiting transitions of firms in and out of networks, we show that network afiliation is associated with higher inequality along two dimensions. First, network firms pay higher average wages than stand-alone firms, increasing between-firm inequality. Second, the dispersion of wages within a network firm is higher than within a stand-alone firm, increasing within-firm inequality. The effects are driven by increases in the wages of top workers, and by the entry of new top workers. Our findings shed light on the relationship between ownership structures and the distribution of labor income in the economy.
    Date: 2022–03

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