The purpose of this paper is to shed light on a widely used yet scarcely investigated form of incentive, awards. The paper seeks to explore, first, whether awards can be used to motivate higher performance in academia and volunteering, and second, how often and in what forms awards are in actual fact being used in the voluntary sector.
The paper combines a theoretical analysis with various analytical methods, including a new matching technique, randomization in the field, and the survey approach.
Awards have the potential to substantially increase performance, yet they are less frequently used in the Swiss voluntary sector than theory suggests.
The focus lies on awards in academia and the voluntary sector. Future research should investigate awards in other fields, e.g. the for-profit or the cultural sector. It should also assess their use in other countries to facilitate cross-country comparisons. The effects on non-recipients and the public at large are another area worth investigating.
Practitioners are encouraged to consider awards as an important motivational instrument, which could be integrated more explicitly and more widely in the volunteer management systems of Swiss non-profit organizations.
This contribution analyzes a widely used yet scarcely investigated form of incentive, awards. originality/value derives naturally from this observation.
The authors acknowledge funding from the Schweizerische Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft (SGG), and from the Centre for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA), Switzerland.
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