Testing the Theory of Multitasking: Evidence from A Natural Field Experiment in Chinese Factories

Fuhai HONG, Tanjim HOSSAIN, John LIST, Migiwa TANAKA

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

1 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Using a natural field experiment, we quantify the impact of one‐dimensional performance‐based incentives on incentivized (quantity) and nonincentivized (quality) dimensions of output for factory workers with a flat‐rate or a piece‐rate base salary. In particular, we observe output quality by hiring quality inspectors unbeknownst to the workers. We find that workers trade off quality for quantity, but the effect is statistically significant only for workers under a flat‐rate base salary. This variation in treatment effects is consistent with a simple theoretical model that predicts that when agents are already incented at the margin, the quantity–quality trade‐off resulting from performance pay is less prominent.
Original languageEnglish
Article number26
Pages (from-to)511-536
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Economic Review
Volume59
Issue number2
Early online date6 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

Fingerprint

Natural field experiment
Testing
Multitasking
Factory
Workers
Salary
Trade-offs
Hiring
Treatment effects
Incentives
Margin
Performance pay

Bibliographical note

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of SSHRC Grant No. 489160 and from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Cite this

HONG, Fuhai ; HOSSAIN, Tanjim ; LIST, John ; TANAKA, Migiwa. / Testing the Theory of Multitasking: Evidence from A Natural Field Experiment in Chinese Factories. In: International Economic Review. 2018 ; Vol. 59, No. 2. pp. 511-536.
@article{759396445ba948858cfb22ea9b33faad,
title = "Testing the Theory of Multitasking: Evidence from A Natural Field Experiment in Chinese Factories",
abstract = "Using a natural field experiment, we quantify the impact of one‐dimensional performance‐based incentives on incentivized (quantity) and nonincentivized (quality) dimensions of output for factory workers with a flat‐rate or a piece‐rate base salary. In particular, we observe output quality by hiring quality inspectors unbeknownst to the workers. We find that workers trade off quality for quantity, but the effect is statistically significant only for workers under a flat‐rate base salary. This variation in treatment effects is consistent with a simple theoretical model that predicts that when agents are already incented at the margin, the quantity–quality trade‐off resulting from performance pay is less prominent.",
author = "Fuhai HONG and Tanjim HOSSAIN and John LIST and Migiwa TANAKA",
note = "We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of SSHRC Grant No. 489160 and from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.",
year = "2018",
month = "5",
doi = "10.1111/iere.12278",
language = "English",
volume = "59",
pages = "511--536",
journal = "International Economic Review",
issn = "0020-6598",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd",
number = "2",

}

Testing the Theory of Multitasking: Evidence from A Natural Field Experiment in Chinese Factories. / HONG, Fuhai; HOSSAIN, Tanjim; LIST, John; TANAKA, Migiwa.

In: International Economic Review, Vol. 59, No. 2, 26, 05.2018, p. 511-536.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

TY - JOUR

T1 - Testing the Theory of Multitasking: Evidence from A Natural Field Experiment in Chinese Factories

AU - HONG, Fuhai

AU - HOSSAIN, Tanjim

AU - LIST, John

AU - TANAKA, Migiwa

N1 - We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of SSHRC Grant No. 489160 and from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

PY - 2018/5

Y1 - 2018/5

N2 - Using a natural field experiment, we quantify the impact of one‐dimensional performance‐based incentives on incentivized (quantity) and nonincentivized (quality) dimensions of output for factory workers with a flat‐rate or a piece‐rate base salary. In particular, we observe output quality by hiring quality inspectors unbeknownst to the workers. We find that workers trade off quality for quantity, but the effect is statistically significant only for workers under a flat‐rate base salary. This variation in treatment effects is consistent with a simple theoretical model that predicts that when agents are already incented at the margin, the quantity–quality trade‐off resulting from performance pay is less prominent.

AB - Using a natural field experiment, we quantify the impact of one‐dimensional performance‐based incentives on incentivized (quantity) and nonincentivized (quality) dimensions of output for factory workers with a flat‐rate or a piece‐rate base salary. In particular, we observe output quality by hiring quality inspectors unbeknownst to the workers. We find that workers trade off quality for quantity, but the effect is statistically significant only for workers under a flat‐rate base salary. This variation in treatment effects is consistent with a simple theoretical model that predicts that when agents are already incented at the margin, the quantity–quality trade‐off resulting from performance pay is less prominent.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85044921410&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/iere.12278

DO - 10.1111/iere.12278

M3 - Journal Article (refereed)

VL - 59

SP - 511

EP - 536

JO - International Economic Review

JF - International Economic Review

SN - 0020-6598

IS - 2

M1 - 26

ER -