Can public recognition reward backfire? Field experimental evidence on the retention and performance of volunteers with social-image concerns Presenter: Choon Wang Abstract
We embed a large-scale randomized controlled experiment within an existing volunteer tutor program of BRAC in Bangladesh to examine the effects of offering non-financial incentives on volunteersâ€™ dropout rates and performance. Consistent with the hypothesis that volunteers are motivated by social-image concerns, we find that dropout rates increase when volunteers are offered a performance-contingent public-recognition certificate, while dropout rates remain unchanged when they are offered a performancecontingent certificate to be awarded privately. Despite dropout rate increases by almost half for the most desirable volunteers, the treatment improves overall student performance because it motivates performance among volunteers with low past achievement.