Worker misconduct is costly to organizations and has the potential to be even more prevalent in gig work contexts, where workers feel less connected to their employers. As the gig economy accounts for an increasing portion of the workforce, there is a need for scholars and managers to better understand what employers can do to mitigate the prevalence of misconduct in this setting. Empirical examination of the drivers and mitigators of any type of worker misconduct is empirically challenging since misconduct, by its very nature, is typically concealed and thus difficult to observe and accurately measure. To address this challenge, we implement a real effort experiment in a gig work context that enables us to cleanly observe misconduct. We demonstrate casual evidence that appealing to gig workers’ sense of moral obligation towards their employer (via messaging about either the employer’s CSR initiatives or the employer’s ethics code) decreases misconduct. This effect, however, is only present when gig workers do not believe they are being monitored -- indicating that the benefits gained from implementing multiple types of employee governance tools may not be additive. We furthermore show that certain individual-level characteristics are highly correlated with misconduct and that employer-level policies have heterogeneous effects across different types of workers. Results have important theoretical implications for research on employee misconduct and, from an empirical perspective, shed light on both the drivers and mitigators of gig worker misconduct in practice.
Burbano, Vanessa, and Bennett Chiles. "Mitigating Gig Worker Misconduct: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment." Columbia Business School, 2019.
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