Can Social Norms Motivate Employee Conservation Efforts?

Date
2015-08-22
Authors
Morton, Joel
Orazem, Peter
Rosenblatt, Tanya
Cutrona, Carolyn
Krizan, Zlatan
McCormick, James
Nusser, Sarah
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Altmetrics
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Economics
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Abstract

A randomized experiment is used to test whether employees will take actions to lower short- and long-run electricity use when their actions are unobservable and only the firm can benefit. Results suggest that social norms act as a coordinating device supporting worker conservation efforts. Electricity use fell 5.2% on average in buildings that were provided information on their own energy use compared to that in a paired building. The energy reductions have persisted over three years. Feedback on own past usage and provision of promotional information induced smaller and
statistically insignificant reductions in electricity use.

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Keywords
Electricity, Free rider; conservation, social norms, competition, feedback, information, coordination
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