Enhancing Autonomy to Motivate Effort: An Experiment on the Delegation of Contract Choice

Experiments in Organizational Economics

ISBN: 978-1-78560-964-0, eISBN: 978-1-78560-963-3

ISSN: 0193-2306

Publication date: 18 December 2016

Abstract

We investigate whether giving workers autonomy through delegation of contract choice intrinsically motivates effort. In a novel laboratory experiment that controls for contract preferences and outcomes, principals can either choose the contract under which agents work on a real-effort task, or delegate the contract choice to the agents. We evaluate whether agents exert higher effort when they are allowed to choose the contract versus when the contract is imposed on them. We find no difference between the two conditions, even after controlling for baseline ability and for locus of control. Because our design excludes the possibility that preferences play a role, and because workers engaged in a real-effort task, this result casts doubt on an intrinsic link between the autonomy granted through delegation and the motivation of employees in the workplace. Our results do not deny, however, the possible instrumental benefits of autonomy (which did not play a role in our design) and their potentially powerful impact on motivation.

Keywords

Citation

Chaudhry, S. and Klinowski, D. (2016), "Enhancing Autonomy to Motivate Effort: An Experiment on the Delegation of Contract Choice", Experiments in Organizational Economics (Research in Experimental Economics, Vol. 19), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 141-157. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0193-230620160000019005

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017 Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.