Findings

Back to Work

Kevin Lewis

February 08, 2010

The Necessity of Others is the Mother of Invention: Intrinsic and Prosocial Motivations, Perspective-Taking, and Creativity

Adam Grant & James Berry
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although many scholars believe that intrinsic motivation fuels creativity, research has returned equivocal results. Drawing on motivated information processing theory, we propose that the relationship between intrinsic motivation and creativity is enhanced by other-focused psychological processes. Perspective-taking, as generated by prosocial motivation, encourages employees to develop ideas that are useful as well as novel. Across three studies, using both field and lab data, prosocial motivation strengthened the association between intrinsic motivation and independent creativity ratings. In our second and third studies, perspective-taking mediated this moderating effect. We discuss theoretical implications for creativity and motivation.

---------------------

Mental Retirement

Susann Rohwedder & Robert Willis
RAND Working Paper, October 2009

Abstract:
Some studies suggest that people can maintain their cognitive abilities through "mental exercise." This has not been unequivocally proven. Retirement is associated with a large change in a person's daily routine and environment. In this paper, the authors propose two mechanisms how retirement may lead to cognitive decline. For many people retirement leads to a less stimulating daily environment. In addition, the prospect of retirement reduces the incentive to engage in mentally stimulating activities on the job. They investigate the effect of retirement on cognition empirically using cross-nationally comparable surveys of older persons in the United States, England, and 11 European countries in 2004. They find that early retirement has a significant negative impact on the cognitive ability of people in their early 60s that is both quantitatively important and causal. Identification is achieved using national pension policies as instruments for endogenous retirement.

---------------------

Another Hidden Cost of Incentives: The Detrimental Effect on Norm Enforcement

Andreas Fuster & Stephan Meier
Management Science, January 2010, Pages 57-70

Abstract:
Monetary incentives, such as subsidies or bonuses, are often considered as a way to foster contributions to public goods in society and firms. This paper investigates experimentally the effect of private contribution incentives in the presence of a norm enforcement mechanism. Norm enforcement through peer punishment has been shown to be effective in raising contributions by itself. We test whether and how (centrally provided) private incentives interact with (decentralized) punishment, both of which affect subjects' monetary payoffs. The results of our experiment show that private incentives for contributors can reduce the effectiveness of the norm enforcement mechanism: Free riders are punished less harshly in the treatment with incentives, and as a consequence, average contributions to the public good are no higher than without incentives. This finding ties to and extends previous research on settings in which monetary incentives may fail to have the desired effect.

---------------------

Brainstorm: Occupational Choice, Bipolar Illness and Creativity

Carol Horton Tremblay, Shawna Grosskopf & Ke Yang
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although economists have analyzed earnings, unemployment, and labor force participation for those with bipolar illness, occupational choice has yet to be explored. Psychological and medical studies often suggest an association between bipolar illness and creative achievement, but they tend to focus on eminent figures, case studies, or small samples. We seek to examine occupational creativity of non-eminent individuals with bipolar disorder. We use Epidemiologic Catchment Area data to estimate a multinomial logit model matched to an index of occupational creativity. Those with bipolar illness appear to be disproportionately concentrated in the most creative occupational category. Nonparametric kernel density estimates reveal that the densities of the occupational creativity variable for the bipolar and non-bipolar individuals significantly differ in the ECA data, and suggest that the probability of engaging in creative activities on the job is higher for bipolar than non-bipolar workers.

---------------------

Military CEOs

Efraim Benmelech & Carola Frydman
Harvard Working Paper, November 2009

Abstract:
We analyze the effect of military service of CEOs on a host of managerial decisions, corporate policies and outcomes. Exploiting exogenous variation in the propensity to serve in the military that is driven by year of birth, we show that service in the military leads to lower corporate investment in both capital and R&D. Our evidence also suggests that CEOs who serve in the military perform better during industry downturns. Taken together, our results show that service in the military has a causal effect on managerial decisions and firm outcomes. Given the steady decline in CEOs with military background since the 1980s, firms with a demand for these particular skills may face a real challenge in obtaining optimal managerial talent.

---------------------

Estimating Production Efficiency in Men's NCAA College Basketball: A Bayesian Approach

Michael Rimler, Seongho Song & David Yi
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using Bayesian analysis with Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) estimation, we generate estimates of technical efficiency for each game played by an Atlantic 10 Conference men's basketball team during the 2005-2006 season. The flexibility of MCMC, and its ability to provide an objective measure for assessing model fit, makes it preferable to maximum likelihood (ML) estimation of stochastic production frontiers. Within the context of men's basketball, this article addresses the question of whether technical efficiency necessarily leads to success relative to one's competitors. Results indicate that (a) technical efficiency does not vary significantly, either across or within teams, implying that teams in the A-10 play at very close and high levels of efficiency and (b) technical efficiency does not correlate strongly with productivity, suggesting that the fundamental quality of one's resources are more important than an efficient use of those resources. In addition, parameter estimates suggest that a single turnover or offensive rebound could mean the difference between winning and losing.

---------------------

Social Contacts and Occupational Choice

Samuel Bentolila, Claudio Michelacci & Javier Suarez
Economica, January 2010, Pages 20-45

Abstract:
Social contacts help to find jobs, but not necessarily in the occupations where workers are most productive. Hence social contacts can generate mismatch between workers' occupational choices and their productive advantage. Accordingly, social networks can lead to low labour force quality, low returns to firms' investment and depressed aggregate productivity. We analyse surveys from both the US and Europe including information on job finding through contacts. Consistent with our predictions, contacts reduce unemployment duration by 1-3 months on average, but they are associated with wage discounts of at least 2.5%. We also find some evidence of negative externalities on aggregate productivity.

---------------------

Travel Costs in the NBA Production Function

Andrew Nutting
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article empirically determines whether travel factors affect National Basketball Association (NBA) teams' production of wins, offense, and defense. Distance traveled has little impact on win production. Teams with fewer days since their last game produce fewer wins, with an especially large effect for visiting teams in the first half of the season. Game frequency costs accrue in the second half of the season, significantly hurting visiting teams' win production. In the second half of seasons, win production increases when teams play in time zones to the east and decreases in time zones to the west of their home time zone.

---------------------

Smarter task assignment or greater effort: The impact of incentives on team performance

Simon Burgess, Carol Propper, Marisa Ratto, Stephanie von Hinke, Kessler Scholder & Emma Tominey
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use an experiment to study the impact of team-based incentives, exploiting rich data from personnel records and management information systems. Using a triple difference design, we show that the incentive scheme had an impact on team performance, even with quite large teams. We examine whether this effect was due to increased effort from workers or strategic task reallocation. We find that the provision of financial incentives did raise individual performance but that managers also disproportionately reallocated efficient workers to the incentivised tasks. We show that this reallocation was the more important contributor to the overall outcome.

---------------------

Collaborating

Alessandro Bonatti & Johannes Hörner
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines moral hazard in teams over time. Agents are collectively engaged in an uncertain project, and their individual efforts are unobserved. Free-riding leads not only to a reduction in effort, but also to procrastination. The collaboration dwindles over time, but never ceases as long as the project has not succeeded. In fact, the delay until the project succeeds, if it ever does, increases with the number of agents. We show why deadlines, but not necessarily better monitoring, help to mitigate moral hazard.

---------------------

Status and the Evaluation of Workplace Deviance

Hannah Riley Bowles & Michele Gelfand
Psychological Science, January 2010, Pages 49-54

Abstract:
Bias in the evaluation of workplace misbehavior is hotly debated in courts and corporations, but it has received little empirical attention. Classic sociological literature suggests that deviance by lower-status actors will be evaluated more harshly than deviance by higher-status actors. However, more recent psychological literature suggests that discrimination in the evaluation of misbehavior may be moderated by the relative status of the evaluator because status influences both rule observance and attitudes toward social hierarchy. In Study 1, the psychological experience of higher status decreased rule observance and increased preferences for social hierarchy, as we theorized. In three subsequent experiments, we tested the hypothesis that higher-status evaluators would be more discriminating in their evaluations of workplace misbehavior, evaluating fellow higher-status deviants more leniently than lower-status deviants. Results supported the hypothesized interactive effect of evaluator status and target status on the evaluation of workplace deviance, when both achieved status characteristics (Studies 2a and 2b) and ascribed status characteristics (i.e., race and gender in Study 3) were manipulated.

---------------------

Who's with Me? False Consensus, Brokerage, and Ethical Decision Making in Organizations

Francis Flynn & Scott Wiltermuth
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose that members of organizations overestimate the degree to which others share their views on matters of ethics. Further, we argue that this false consensus bias is exacerbated, not mitigated, by being a broker in an advice network. That is, a high level of betweenness centrality increases a focal individual's estimates of agreement with others on ethical issues beyond what is warranted by any actual increase in agreement. We test these ideas with three separate samples of graduate business students, executive students, and employees in an organization. Individuals who had higher betweenness centrality (rather than degree or closeness centrality) overestimated the extent to which their ethical judgments were in line with the judgments of their colleagues.


Sign-in to your National Affairs subscriber account.


Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


subscribe

Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

SUBSCRIBE
Subscribe to National Affairs.