Non-Pecuniary Incentives In Contests

This field experiment explores the role of non-pecuniary incentives — non-cash awards, career signaling and community prestige — in motivating knowledge workers on contest platforms. From a platform strategy perspective, this matters because only a small fraction of workers actually win cash prizes (performance is highly skewed). However, platforms need to attract and retain a large and diverse pool of workers in order to attract firms on the other side of the platform. Hence the question of whether recognition in the form of symbolic awards given for "fun challenges" has a motivational effect in such a monetarily incentivized context. Specifically, we analyze (1) whether there are systematic differences in the types of knowledge workers who select into an activity based on money vs. recognition, and (2) whether even workers who initially “go for the money” are motivated by receiving symbolic recognition.