The Level of Detail in Relative Performance Information – Effects of Median and Distribution Reporting in the Workplace

Last registered on November 05, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Level of Detail in Relative Performance Information – Effects of Median and Distribution Reporting in the Workplace
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008463
Initial registration date
November 02, 2021
Last updated
November 05, 2021, 7:48 PM EDT

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Frankfurt School of Finance and Management

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
PI Affiliation
Ulm University
PI Affiliation
Ulm University

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2021-08-01
End date
2022-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
A central choice in designing social comparison is whether to provide an aggregated reference point or the distribution of peer performance. To test the performance effects of this design choice in the workplace, we will conduct a field experiment with a German retail chain. We randomly assign store employees to a control group that only receives information about their own performance, one treatment group that additionally gets information about the aggregate performance (median) of the other employees and a second treatment group that receives the whole performance distribution (deciles). We expect both treatments to increase the performance of the employees. As we introduce relative performance information in an ahead-seeking environment, we expect that providing information on peer performance will increase performance variance and that providing the median will lead to a larger performance variance than providing the performance distribution. This is important because higher performance variance might allow to identify top performers, but at the same time also carries the risk to create disutility due to inequality.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Kohler, Maximilian et al. 2021. "The Level of Detail in Relative Performance Information – Effects of Median and Distribution Reporting in the Workplace." AEA RCT Registry. November 05. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8463-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2021-11-03
Intervention End Date
2022-02-04

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Average Sales per Transaction
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Survey responses (satisfaction, stress, team behavior), sales, number of transactions,
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will introduce a digital app that enables sales employees in the butchery, cheese, and fish departments to analyze their average receipt. Our study’s experimental design consists of a control group (CON) and two randomly assigned treatment groups (MED, DIS). The control group and the treatment groups each receive different reports in the digital app, which are updated every two weeks. The intervention will take place in two phases. In phase one, employees of all groups receive the basic design of the control group over a period of one month (already started in October 2021). In the experimental phase (second phase), treatment groups are informed of the median performance (MED) and performance deciles (DIS) of employees in their department across comparable stores (of similar size) over a period of 3 months. The reports are completely anonymous and do not allow conclusions about individual performance data of peers.

Control Group (CON)
To avoid possible contamination effects due to the implementation of the app and effects that are driven simply by increased attention on the new performance metric employees in the CON group receive a report about their average receipt too. They will be informed about their average receipt of the past two weeks as well the development of their average receipt over the last six weeks. In order to be able to distinguish the effect of the treatments from the effect of the introduction of the app, employees of all groups receive only the design of the CON group in the first phase of the experiment.

Treatment Median (MED)
Employees in the MED treatment group receive a report similar to the control group. In addition, they receive the median of employees from their department from comparable stores over the last two weeks. Below the chart on the median of the comparison group, employees are informed in a sentence whether their average receipt exceeds the median average receipt of the comparison group or not.

Treatment Distribution (DIS)
Employees in the DIS treatment group receive a report similar to the control group. In addition, they receive the average receipt of the performance deciles of employees from their department from comparable stores over the last two weeks. Below the graph on the deciles of the comparison group, employees are informed in a sentence to which decile they belong.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Stratified cluster randomization. We stratify our randomization based on store size (which is also a proxy for the number of employees and length of the sales counter) and average sales per transaction prior the experiment (as a proxy for potential leeway to further increase the outcome variable).
Randomization Unit
Store level
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
42 stores
Sample size: planned number of observations
approx. 700 employees
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control Group: 14 stores, approx. 220 employees
MED: 14 stores, approx. 220 employees
DIS: 14 stores, approx. 220 employees

Please note that the eventual number of employees can change due to fluctuation.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
IRB Approval Date
2021-08-31
IRB Approval Number
N/A