"Social Pressure as a By-Product of Monetary Incentives to Improve Collaboration"
Free-riding occurs when individual team members benefit from collective achievements without contributing commensurate levels of effort. In many cases, however, workers are expected to contribute effort to facilitate the success of others without necessarily sharing in the benefits. I explore a setting in which a California hospital introduced a one-time temporary bonus program to improve hand hygiene compliance. State regulation prevented physicians from being eligible to receive bonus payments. Because physicians’ hand hygiene compliance would count toward collective performance, bonus-eligible workers developed spontaneous social pressure practices directed to motivate physician’s effort leveraging on their image motivation. These implicit incentives were effective to drive physicians’ contribution to the collective performance absent any monetary reward. Additionally, physicians exhibited greater persistence of performance improvements compared to bonus-eligible workers. This study contributes to the literature on the effectiveness of non-monetary incentives in settings where individual participation to collective performance is not aligned with commensurate monetary rewards.