Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2011

'Fit': Field Experimental Evidence on Sorting, Incentives and Creative Worker Performance

by Kevin J. Boudreau and Karim R. Lakhani

Abstract

We present the results of a 10-day field experiment in which over 500 elite software developers prepared solutions to the same computational algorithmic problem. Participants were divided into two groups with identical skills distributions and exposed to the same competitive institutional setting. The "sorted" group was composed of individuals who preferred the competitive regime instead of a team-based outside option. The "unsorted" group had population-average preferences for working in the regime or the outside option. We find this sorting on this basis of institutional preferences doubled effort and the performance of solutions-controlling for skills, monetary incentives and institutional details.

Keywords: Competency and Skills; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Independent Innovation and Invention; Performance Evaluation; Creativity; Motivation and Incentives; Personal Characteristics; Competition;

Citation:

Boudreau, Kevin J., and Karim R. Lakhani. "'Fit': Field Experimental Evidence on Sorting, Incentives and Creative Worker Performance." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11-107, April 2011.