Title

Framing manipulations in contests : a natural field experiment

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization

Publication Date

10-2015

Volume

118

First Page

372

Last Page

382

Publisher

Elsevier BV

Keywords

Framing effect, Field experiment, Worker productivity, Contests, Loss aversion, Incentive contracts

Abstract

Exploiting findings that losses loom larger than gains, studies have shown that framing manipulations can increase productivity of workers. Using a natural field experiment that exogenously manipulates wage bonuses within contests in a Chinese high-tech manufacturing facility, we show that how loss aversion affects worker behavior critically depends on the incentive scheme as well as the framing manipulation. Four sets of two identical teams competed against each other to win a bonus given to the team, within a set, with the higher average hourly productivity over the week. In each set, the bonus was framed as a reward or gain for one team and as a punishment or loss for the other. Average weekly productivity was slightly higher under the loss treatment, but this increase was statistically insignificant. However, the team under the loss treatment was at least 35% more likely to win the contest. As teams’ payoffs are based on relative productivity under a contest, framing effect is much stronger in terms of relative productivity. Finally, workers seemingly responded to the bonus by increasing the quality of production as well as quantity—defect rate fell as productivity increased.

DOI

10.1016/j.jebo.2015.02.014

Print ISSN

01672681

Funding Information

Funding for this research was provided by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (489160)

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Hong, F., Hossain, T., & List, J. A. (2015). Framing manipulations in contests: A natural field experiment. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 118, 372-382. doi: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.02.014