105: Jana Gallus on the Economics of Non-Financial Awards and How Editor Retention on Wikipedia Can Be Maintained
Professor Gallus’s research interests lie in behavioral economics and strategy, with a focus on non-financial incentives and their effects on decision-making.
Jana investigates how incentive schemes can be designed to enhance employee motivation and organizational performance in the private and nonprofit sectors.
Jana joined UCLA Anderson from Harvard, where she was a postdoctoral fellow. She received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Zurich, with the distinction summa cum laude, and holds two master’s degrees, from Sciences Po Paris in France and the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.
Jana describes herself as an economist with a keen interest in studying and designing incentives to motivate human behaviour.
Her research and teaching lie at the intersection of strategy, economics and psychology.
In this episode, Jana discusses and mentions: incentives, awards, field experiments, utility, happiness, motivation and social signals.
The Salient Features of Wikipedia from a Economists Perspective When Studying the Motivation for Non-Financial Awards:
In a study by Professor Jana Gallus, the future behaviour of editors on Wikipedia were analysed from a purely non-financial awards perspective. A digital award was given to some newcomers who displayed it on their Wikipedia profile page. This group were compared to another group of newcomers who did not receive the digital award. Professor Gallus identified that non-financial awards are a motivating factor to determine future and continued behavior.
- The use of pseudonyms. This makes it possible to study purely symbolic awards without any material or career-related benefits. Normally when we study awards in the field of economics, it is difficult to argue that any motivational effect that you might find was due to the honour and the recognition rather than to the pecuniary benefit that comes along with most awards. Using pseudonyms on Wikipedia, nobody in the real world knows who it is, and this allows a study of purely symbolic honors.
- The ability to randomize. This allows you to cleanly identify the effects of receiving an award on future behavior. Filtering out newcomers and ‘vandals’, allows the handing out of a ‘Newcomer Award’. The future behavior of those who receive the award, the treatment group, are compared to a control group (also newcomers who were not given an award). The only difference between both groups is the receipt of the ‘Newcomer Award’ which was given out by chance. So no other variables or characteristics were identified to discriminate or favor the newcomers.
The digital award for newcomers, a purely symbolic award, increases the retention rate of newcomers by 20% in the following month. This result was evident even in ‘high-powered’ editors and any minor editing activity was removed from the study, allowing for a more robust finding. The effect of this reward persists for a year and only then does the effect become insignificant.
- You must be motivated, love what you’re doing and be intrigued to know more about what you’re doing.
- Make sure to reserve time for active thinking. This seems so trivial but in today’s day and age of podcasting, you need to be optimizing all the time. Whether you’re cooking or exercising, every second can be optimized. It requires self-discipline to reserve some time for active thinking.
- Get a ‘birds-eye view’ of the research that you are doing by having amazing discussions with other researchers in your field of study. Discussions should not be on the nitty-gritty focused on the detail but more on the general phenomenon and why it is of interest.
- Always carry around a small booklet to keep notes.
- At the weekends, work from coffee houses and have lively discussions with others on topics that may not of interest immediately but may form the basis of your next research paper.
- Read books. By spending time reading a book, you are devoting more time on the subject matter than you would otherwise by reading an article or paper. You therefore deal with something more on a fundamental level and your thoughts keep coming back to this for a longer period of time than would be possible when you just read articles.
- The power of awards (with Bruno S. Frey). The Economists’ Voice, 2014, 11(1): 1–5.
- Open issues in happiness research (with Bruno S. Frey and Lasse Steiner). International Review of Economics, 2014, 61(2): 115–125.
- Other publications by Professor Gallus can be found here.
Where to Find Professor Gallus:
- Website: www.janagallus.com
- UCLA Anderson: www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/strategy/faculty/gallus
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- Models of the Man: Essays in Memory of Herbert Simon edited by Mie Augier and James G. March
- What Works: Gender Equality By Design by Iris Bohnet
- Arts and Economics: Analysis and Cultural Policy by Bruno S. Frey
- Not Just for the Money: An Economic Theory of Personal Motivation by Bruno S. Frey
- Happiness: A Revolution in Economics by Bruno S. Frey