SBEE Lecture Series: Stephan Meier

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad 

The Social, Behavioral and Experimental Economics lecture series is sponsored by the School of Information, the Ross School of Business and the Department of Economics. Speakers from U.S. and international universities present their research at weekly seminars during the 2018-2019 academic year. 

Intentions for Doing Good Matter for Doing Well: The (Negative) Signaling Value of Prosocial Incentives


Many firms consider prosocial initiatives to be an effective tool to motivate workers. However, despite some initial supportive evidence, little is known about when and how prosocial incentives work. Our field experiment shows that the instrumental use of prosocial incentives to increase effort can backfire. The negative effect is particularly strong for performance-based prosocial incentives, which are, by construction, more instrumental than unconditional incentives, and for non-prosocial workers, who do not care to support the cause. These findings highlight some serious limitations of prosocial incentives: firms' perceived intentions and the pool of employees will be crucial for their effectiveness.

Speaker Bio:

Stephan Meier is a Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Zurich, was previously a senior economist at the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision-Making at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and taught courses on strategic interactions and economic policy at Harvard University and the University of Zurich. His research interest is in behavioral strategy. He investigates the impact of psychology and economics on human decision-making and its implications for public policy and firms' strategy. Current research topics include how non-selfish behavior affect organizations or the effect of borrower's decision-making on financial institutions' strategy. His work has been published in the leading academic journals including the American Economic Review and Management Science, and has been profiled by the press such as The Economist, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

The talk will begin at 11:45 am and end at 12:45 pm.