Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2277103
 


 



Mandatory Fun: Consent, Gamification and the Impact of Games at Work


Ethan R. Mollick


University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School

Nancy Rothbard


University of Pennsylvania - Management Department

September 30, 2014

The Wharton School Research Paper Series

Abstract:     
In an effort to create a positive experience at work, managers have deployed a wide range of initiatives and practices designed to improve the affective experience for workers. One such practice is gamification, introducing elements from games into the work environment with the purpose of improving employees’ affective experiences. Games have long been played at work, but they have emerged spontaneously from the employees themselves. Here, we examine whether managerially-imposed games provide the desired benefits for affect and performance predicted by prior studies on games at work or whether they are a form of “mandatory fun.” We highlight the role of consent (Burawoy, 1979) as a psychological response to mandatory fun, which moderates these relationships and, in a field experiment, find that games, when consented to, increase positive affect at work, but, when consent is lacking, decrease positive affect. In a follow up laboratory experiment, we also find that legitimation and a sense of individual agency are important sources of consent.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 54

Keywords: games, gamification, affect, performance, work

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Date posted: June 10, 2013 ; Last revised: September 30, 2014

Suggested Citation

Mollick, Ethan R. and Rothbard, Nancy, Mandatory Fun: Consent, Gamification and the Impact of Games at Work (September 30, 2014). 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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