The spillover effects of monitoring: A field experiment

Michele Belot, Marina Schröder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We provide field experimental evidence of the effects of monitoring in a context where productivity is multi-dimensional and only one dimension is monitored and incentivised. We hire students to do a job for us. The job consists of identifying euro coins. We study the effects of monitoring and penalising mistakes on work quality, and evaluate spillovers on non- incentivised dimensions of productivity (punctuality and theft). We find that monitoring improves work quality only if incentives are large, but reduces punctuality substantially irrespectively of the size of incentives.
Monitoring does not affect theft, with ten per cent of participants stealing overall. Our setting also allows us to disentangle between possible theoretical mechanisms driving the adverse effects of monitoring. Our findings are supportive of a reciprocity mechanism, whereby workers retaliate for
being distrusted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages19
JournalManagement Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • counterproductive behaviour
  • monitoring
  • experiment
  • C93
  • J24
  • J30
  • M42
  • M5


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