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We design a laboratory experiment in which a human or an algorithm decides which of two workers to dismiss. The algorithm automatically dismisses the least productive worker whereas human bosses have full discretion over their decisions. Using performance metrics and questionnaires, we find that fired workers react more negatively to human than to algorithmic decisions in a broad range of tasks. We show that spitefulness exacerbated this negative reaction. Our findings suggest algorithms could help tame negative reactions to dismissals.


ESI Working Paper 23-02



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