Effort Momentum

Patrick DeJarnette, National Taiwan University

Abstract: This paper examines how past effort can impact subsequent effort, such as when effort is reduced following an interruption. I conducted 3 incentivized real-effort experiments in which both piece rates and leisure options were manipulated and find effort displays significant stickiness, even in the absence of switching costs. I demonstrate that this intertemporal evidence is indicative of effort “momentum,” rather than on-the-job learning, reciprocity, or income targeting. Five minutes after incentives return to baseline, 45% of the effort increase or decrease persists. This finding is especially relevant for studies employing individual fixed effects and for organizations concerned with worker disruptions.

Read the full working paper here (PDF).