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Peers at Work

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Abstract:

We study peer effects in the workplace. Specifically, we investigate whether, how, and why the productivity of a worker depends on the productivity of coworkers in the same team. Using high-frequency data on worker productivity from a large supermarket chain, we find strong evidence of positive productivity spillovers from the introduction of highly productive personnel into a shift. Worker effort is positively related to the productivity of workers who see him, but not workers who do not see him. Additionally, workers respond more to the presence of coworkers with whom they frequently interact. We conclude that social pressure can partially internalize free-riding externalities that are built into many workplaces.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/aer.99.1.112

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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