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How much does your boss make? : The effects of salary comparisons

Author: Zoë B Cullen; Ricardo Perez-Truglia; National Bureau of Economic Research,
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2018.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 24841.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
We study how employees learn about the salaries of their peers and managers and how their beliefs about those salaries affect their own behavior. We conducted a field experiment with a sample of 2,060 employees from a multi-billion dollar corporation. We combine rich data from surveys and administrative records with data from the experiment, which provided some employees with accurate information about the salaries  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Zoë B Cullen; Ricardo Perez-Truglia; National Bureau of Economic Research,
OCLC Number: 1047999742
Notes: "July 2018"
Includes online appendix (lvi pages).
Description: 1 online resource (49 pages) : illustrations.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 24841.
Responsibility: Zoë Cullen, Ricardo Perez-Truglia.

Abstract:

We study how employees learn about the salaries of their peers and managers and how their beliefs about those salaries affect their own behavior. We conducted a field experiment with a sample of 2,060 employees from a multi-billion dollar corporation. We combine rich data from surveys and administrative records with data from the experiment, which provided some employees with accurate information about the salaries of others. First, we document large misperceptions about salaries and identify some of their sources. Second, we find that perceived peer and manager salaries have a significant causal effect on employee behavior. These effects are different for horizontal and vertical comparisons. While higher perceived peer salary decreases effort, output, and retention, higher perceived manager salary has a positive effect on those same outcomes. We provide suggestive evidence for the underlying mechanisms. We conclude by discussing implications for pay inequality and pay transparency.

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