Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment
Last registered on October 10, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment
Initial registration date
September 28, 2018
Last updated
October 10, 2018 5:13 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
University of Exeter
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Aarhus University
PI Affiliation
Rutgers University
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
At the core of public management are questions about whether and how public and private sector organizations differ from each other and the effects of these differences. An important part of this interest are effects on those working for these organizations. Do workers perceive public organizations as different in characteristics, including their goals, than otherwise similar private, for-profit organizations and what are the consequences? We take as a starting point the issue of whether ownership cues that convey information about the organization's ownership status affect people’s perception of organizations and the way they work for them. We conduct an experiment recruiting online workers via Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform Mechanical Turk to address these questions using random allocation of interventions (for more details please see following sections).
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Andersen, Simon, Oliver James and Sebastian Jilke. 2018. "Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. October 10.
Former Citation
Andersen, Simon et al. 2018. "Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. October 10.
Experimental Details
Different forms of work task description in an experiment online.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Measure of quality of work task (please see below explanation)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Primary outcome measure is the number of mistakes made by participants in the work task overall. We expect that this outcome will be affected by the ownership status of the organization people are described as working for.

Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary outcomes are the time take to complete the work task, the ratio between mistakes and time, and whether they agree to do an additional 7th worksheet (after completing the 6 worksheets), which ought to measure their prosocial work behavior (because they agree to do an additional worksheet for the organization), assuming that this would be higher in public versus for-profit organizations. Measures of this kind are widely used in the literature.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
These additional outcomes are further affected by the interventions.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
US MTurkers recruited to the study and allocated to different experimental groups
Experimental Design Details
Subjects who enroll as workers on Amazon Mechanical Prime will be recruited. Amazon does not allow any individuals below the age of 18 to work on the Mechanical Turk platform, hence we will only recruit subjects of at least 18 years of age. A total of 600 adult workers will be recruited through the platform. Recruitment will be restricted to MTurkers who are based in the US. This can be done using MTurk’s graphics interface so that the work announcement (also called a HIT [Human Intelligence Task]) will only be accessible for US MTurkers. Workers receive financial compensation for participation. All US MTurkers are eligible, and the task will close as soon as 600 subjects have entered it. Inclusion criteria are that the target population are all US-based MTurkers. The recruitment of turkers is to work for something labelled as an elderly care home timesheet, with the different labels for the type of organization constituting the variation in intervention. Participants are asked if they utilized tools that might help them in the task (a calculator). Additional measures are nine items that tap the individual’s conscientiousness taken from the Big Five personality traits inventory. People are also asked about their gender, age and what type of organization they do work for (public, private or nonprofit). The final question is a manipulation check, asking participants if they remember whether the organization mentioned on the time sheets is a public or private, for-profit organization. At end of the study, part pants are debriefed and informed about the full purpose of the study.
Randomization Method
Subjects will be randomized into one of the study's two arms using Qualtrics’ randomization procedures.
Randomization Unit
Units are individual workers.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
600 participants who are MTurk workers, not clustered
Sample size: planned number of observations
600 MTurk workers are units that are observed
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
300 MTurk workers per treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Rutgers University Arts and Science IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers