Social Responsibility Messages and Worker Wage Requirements: Field Experimental Evidence from Online Labor Marketplaces
Organization Science, Forthcoming
39 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2016 Last revised: 9 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 8, 2015
This paper examines the effects of employer social responsibility on the wages workers demand through randomized field experiments in two online labor marketplaces. Workers were recruited for short-term jobs and I manipulated whether or not they received information about the employer’s social responsibility. I then observed the payment workers were willing to accept for the job. In the first experiment, information about the employer’s social responsibility marginally reduced prospective workers’ wage requirements on average, and had a significant effect on the highest performers, who were willing to give up the wage differential they would otherwise demand. In the second, prospective workers submitted 44% lower wage bids for the same job after learning about the employer’s social responsibility. This paper provides causal empirical evidence of a revealed preference for social responsibility in the workplace, and of a greater preference amongst the highest performers. More broadly, it provides evidence that workers value purpose and meaningfulness at work, and demonstrates that workers are willing to give up pecuniary benefits for non-pecuniary benefits. It furthermore highlights heterogeneity in worker preferences for non-pecuniary benefits by worker performance type.
Keywords: social responsibility, strategic human capital, field experiment, reservation wage, philanthropy, online
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