Peer effects on worker output in the laboratory generalize to the field

Daniel Herbst, Alexandre Mas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


We compare estimates of peer effects on worker output in laboratory experiments and field studies from naturally occurring environments. The mean study-level estimate of a change in a worker's productivity in response to an increase in a co-worker's productivity (γ) is γ = 0.12 (SE = 0.03, nstudies = 34), with a between-study standard deviation τ = 0.16. The mean estimated γ-values are close between laboratory and field studies (γlab - γfield = 0.04, P = 0.55, nlab = 11, nfield = 23), as are estimates of between-study variance τ22lab - τ2field = -0:003, P = 0.89). The small mean difference between laboratory and field estimates holds even after controlling for sample characteristics such as incentive schemes and work complexity (γlab - γfield = 0.03, P = 0.62, nsamples = 46). Laboratory experiments generalize quantitatively in that they provide an accurate description of the mean and variance of productivity spillovers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-549
Number of pages5
Issue number6260
StatePublished - Oct 30 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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