Can Social Norms Motivate Employee Conservation Efforts?

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2015-08-22
Authors
Morton, Joel
Rosenblatt, Tanya
Krizan, Zlatan
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Nusser, Sarah
Professor Emerita
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Cutrona, Carolyn
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McCormick, James
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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

History
The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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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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