All Papers

Working Paper
Blasco A, Jung OS, Lakhani KR. Motivating Effort in Contributing To Public Goods Inside Organizations: Field Experimental Evidence. Working Paper. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We investigate the factors driving workers’ decisions to generate public goods inside an organization through a randomized solicitation of workplace improvement proposals in a medical center with 1200 employees. We find that pecuniary incentives, such as winning a prize, generate a threefold increase in participation compared to non-pecuniary incentives alone, such as prestige or recognition. Participation is also increased by a solicitation appealing to improving the workplace. However, emphasizing the patient mission of the organization led to countervailing effects on participation. Overall, these results are consistent with workers having multiple underlying motivations to contribute to public goods inside the organization consisting of a combination of pecuniary and altruistic incentives associated with the mission of the organization.

Menietti M. Fundraising Goals. Working Paper.Abstract

When beginning a new project charities typically appeal to donors with a fundraising goal and a description of the project. For example, an organization may announce a \$200 million campaign to construct a new hospital. While goals are commonly used by fundraisers, there is little theoretical understanding of why they should be successful. We argue that the success of goals may result from provision being more certain at the goal level. The goal induces a threshold like effect on the donors generating a subgame perfect equilibrium with larger total donations than the equivalent game without a goal. Experimental data suggests that announcing a goal does benefit fundraisers. Reducing the uncertainty at the goal does not further increase contributions to fundraisers, but does benefit donors. Simulations of large economies indicate the effect on the size of donations can be quite large, substantially increasing donations while simultaneously enlarging the set of contributors.

Riedl C, Zanibbi R, Hearst MA, Zhu S, Menietti M, Crusan J, Metelsky I, Lakhani KR. Detecting figures and part labels in patents: competition-based development of graphics recognition algorithms. International Journal on Document Analysis and Recognition. 2016.
Boudreau KJ, Lakhani KR, Menietti M. Performance Responses to Competition across Skill-Levels in Rank Order Tournaments: Field Evidence and Implications for Tournament Design. RAND Journal of Economics. 2016;47 (1) :140-165.Abstract

Tournaments are widely used in the economy to organize production and innovation. We study individual data on 2,775 contestants in 755 software algorithm development contests with random assignment. The performance response to added contestants varies non-monotonically across contestants of different abilities, precisely conforming to theoretical predictions. Most participants respond negatively, while the highest-skilled contestants respond positively. In counterfactual simulations, we interpret a number of tournament design policies (number of competitors, prize allocation and structure, number of divisions, open entry) and assess their effectiveness in shaping optimal tournament outcomes for a designer.

Bracha A, Menietti M, Vesterlund L. Seeds to succeed? Sequential giving to public projects. Journal of Public Economics. 2011;95 :416-427.Abstract

The public phase of a capital campaign is typically launched with the announcement of a large seed donation. Andreoni (1998) argues that such a fundraising strategy may be particularly effective when funds are being raised for projects that have fixed production costs. The reason is that when there are fixed costs of production simultaneous giving may result in both positive and zero provision equilibria. Thus absent announcements donors may get stuck in an equilibrium that fails to provide a desirable public project. Andreoni (1998) demonstrates that such inferior outcomes can be eliminated when the fundraiser initially secures a sufficiently large seed donation. We investigate this model experimentally to determine whether announcements of seed money eliminate the inefficiencies that may result under fixed costs and simultaneous provision. To assess the strength of the theory we examine the effect of announcements in both the presence and absence of fixed costs. Our findings are supportive of the theory for sufficiently high fixed costs.