The effects of financial and recognition incentives across work contexts: The role of meaning

Michael Kosfeld, Susanne Neckermann, Xiaolan Yang, 2017,
Economic Inquiry, 55 (1), 237-247

We manipulate workers’ perceived meaning of a job in a field experiment and interact meaning of work with both financial and recognition incentives. Results show that workers exert more effort when meaning is high. Money has a positive effect on performance that is independent of meaning. In contrast, meaning and recognition interact negatively. Our results provide new insights into the stability of incentive effects across important work contexts. They also suggest that meaning and worker recognition may operate via the same motivational channel.