On-the-job leisure is a pervasive feature of the modern workplace. We studied its impact on work performance in a laboratory experiment by either allowing or restricting Internet access. We used a 2×2 experimental design in which subjects completing real-effort work tasks could earn cash according to either individual- or team-production incentive schemes. Under team pay, production levels were significantly lower when Internet browsing was available than when it was not. Under individual pay, however, no differences in production levels were observed between the treatment in which Internet was available and the treatment in which it was not. In line with standard incentive theory, individual pay outperformed team pay across all periods of the experiment when Internet browsing was available. This was not the case, however, when Internet browsing was unavailable. These results demonstrate that the integration of on-the-job leisure activities into an experimental labor design is crucial for uncovering incentive effects.
Corgnet, B., Hérnan-Gonzalez, H., & Schniter, E. (2013). Why real leisure really matters: Incentive effects on real effort in the laboratory. ESI Working Paper 13-22. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/esi_working_papers/38