Peer Influence in the Workplace: Evidence from an Enterprise Digital Platform

60 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2018 Last revised: 13 Apr 2021

See all articles by Haoyuan Liu

Haoyuan Liu

University of Texas at Austin

Wen Wen

University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business

Andrew B. Whinston

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management

Date Written: October 1, 2019

Abstract

We study how the sharing of peer success on an enterprise digital platform affects worker productivity. Using sales workers in an information technology service company as our research context, we leverage the unexpected resignation of several human resources staff as an exogenous shock to the sharing of peer success and implement a difference-in-differences estimation. The empirical evidence suggests the sharing of peer success motivates workers to exert more effort. However, there exists important heterogeneity based on the specific content of peer success messages. In particular, we explore two types of content: messages that highlight peer’s ability (i.e. ability-based messages) and messages that highlight peer’s effort (i.e. effort-based messages). We find that a worker’s response to ability-based messages is stronger if the messages praise the ability of peers who are socially close or have worse historical performance than the focal worker. By contrast, a worker’s response to effort-based messages does not vary by peer characteristics.

Keywords: peer success, work effort, productivity, peer influence, online organizational communication, peer pressure, difference-in-differences

JEL Classification: J24, L86, M54

Suggested Citation

Liu, Haoyuan and Wen, Wen and Whinston, Andrew B., Peer Influence in the Workplace: Evidence from an Enterprise Digital Platform (October 1, 2019). NET Institute Working Paper No. 18-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3267050 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3267050

Haoyuan Liu

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
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Wen Wen (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business ( email )

2110 Speedway Stop B6500
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Andrew B. Whinston

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management ( email )

CBA 5.202
Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-471-8879 (Phone)

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