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Fairness Concerns and Job Assignment to Positions with Different Surplus

Danková, Katarína and Morita, Hodaka and Servátka, Maroš and Zhang, Le (2021): Fairness Concerns and Job Assignment to Positions with Different Surplus.

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Abstract

How does job assignment to positions with different surplus affect fairness concerns? We experimentally examine agents’ fairness concerns in a three-person ultimatum game in which all agents are asked to complete a general knowledge quiz before being assigned to a high-stake or low-stake position. We disentangle two possible channels through which job assignment impacts fairness concerns, wage differences and the principal’s intentions, by comparing cases in which the job assignment is determined randomly or by the principal. The knowledge quiz, which mimics performance evaluation, signifies the distinction between the two cases as it provides a basis on which the principal can make the assignment decision. We find that the principal’s intentions significantly impact fairness concerns of the agents assigned to the low-stake position, but wage differences themselves do not. We elaborate on managerial implications of our findings.

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