As a recent New York Times article reports, 70% of Apple employees in the U.S. work in the company’s retail outlets for about $25,000 a year. While the skills of many of these employees should allow them to command much higher wages, they tend to stay on because, as one former employee put it, “when you’re working for Apple you feel like you’re working for this greater good” (Business section, June, 23, 2012). P. 22.That is from a paper by Jeffrey Carpenter & Erick Gong. The summary
How much harder do people work when they believe in the mission of their organization? Perhaps as important, how much less do they work when they disagree with the mission? We conduct an experiment to estimate the effect of missions on worker productivity. During the 2012 US Presidential election, we randomly assign individuals to work for either the Obama or Romney presidential campaigns thus creating both mission “matches” and “mismatches.” Compared to people who do not care intensely about the candidates, we find that matched Democrats or Republicans assigned to work for their preferred candidate have a 27% increase in productivity but mismatched workers assigned to work for the other candidate work 43% less. We also find, however, that workers who were assigned to work for their opposition could be “bought” – performance-based incentives for these workers greatly mitigate the productivity gap. This work has implications for how organizations define their mission, screen workers, and provide compensation.