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

Last registered on May 13, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Second Phase of Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment
Initial registration date
May 12, 2020

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
May 13, 2020, 3:44 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

University of Exeter

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
This is phase two of a project (first phase Title: Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment RCT ID AEARCTR-0003361).

The overall set of questions of the first and second phase of the project are 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.

The second phase of the project conducts an experiment with the same work task to the first phase, but with an addition intervention prior to this task of providing participants with a treatment reinforcing the information given to them about the ownership (public versus private, for-profit) of the hypothetical organization they are asked to work for. This treatment is hypothesized to increase the salience of the public versus private status difference of the organization by making participants more aware of the organization they are working for, reducing mistakes in the public condition (for more details please see following sections).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Andersen, Simon , Oliver James and Sebastian Jilke. 2020. "Second Phase of Does work effort for public versus private organizations differ? Evidence from an online work task experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. May 13.
Experimental Details


Different forms of work task description in an experiment online for a public or private nursing home (as first phase of study) with additional intervention in second phase of intervention to reinforce information about the ownership status of the organization they work for.
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 and the reinforcement of the ownership status to enhance this effect of ownership status.

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 worksheet (after completing the 7 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
The second phase builds on the first phase: 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 500 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 500 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. Prior to conducting the task, participants are further randomly allocated to receive or not receive a treatment reinforcing information about the ownership status of the organization they work for. 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
500 workers
Sample size: planned number of observations
500 workers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
4 groups (125 individuals in each group). 2 x 2 groups defined by: public organization OR private organization x active reinforcement of ownership status OR passive non-reinforcement of ownership status
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Institutional Review Board at Aarhus University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials