Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment

Last registered on May 07, 2020


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

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
September 28, 2018, 2:23 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
May 07, 2020, 1:20 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Exeter

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Aarhus University
PI Affiliation
Rutgers University

Additional Trial Information

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. 2020. "Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. May 07.
Former Citation
Andersen, Simon, Oliver James and Sebastian Jilke. 2020. "Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. May 07.
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)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Rutgers University Arts and Science IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
November 30, 2018, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
October 19, 2018, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
312 public work task, 300 private work task
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials