Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2277103
 


 



Mandatory Fun: Gamification and the Impact of Games at Work


Ethan R. Mollick


University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School

Nancy Rothbard


University of Pennsylvania - Management Department

June 5, 2013

The Wharton School Research Paper Series

Abstract:     
Scholars have long noted that people often create and play games at work in order to make their experience more positive. As games have become more ubiquitous, managers have developed their own games for employees with the purpose of improving employees’ affective experiences and motivating them to work harder, a phenomenon known as gamification. Unlike the employee-generated spontaneous game play studied in the past, gamification is well-intentioned, but managerially-imposed, ‘fun.' Through a field experiment at a fast growing technology company, we examine whether managerially-imposed games provide the desired benefits for affect and performance predicted by prior studies on games at work, and we highlight and re-examine the role of consent in games (Burawoy, 1979). In our study, salespeople were assigned to one of three experimental conditions, the game condition and two control conditions. In the game condition, we also measured employees’ level of consent to the game. We find that games, when consented to, increase positive affect at work, but, when consent is lacking, decrease positive affect and to some extent performance. These findings highlight the important role that consent plays in how managerially-imposed games at work change the experience of work for employees.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 51

Keywords: games, gamification, affect, performance, work

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Date posted: June 10, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Mollick, Ethan R. and Rothbard, Nancy, Mandatory Fun: Gamification and the Impact of Games at Work (June 5, 2013). The Wharton School Research Paper Series. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2277103 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2277103

Contact Information

Ethan R. Mollick (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School ( email )
The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

Nancy Rothbard
University of Pennsylvania - Management Department ( email )
The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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