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Managing People and Organizations: Three Field Experiments in Firms


Charities frequently spend significant expenses on solicitation. A common finding

is potential donors give more in situations involving exposure to social pressure by

charity affiliates. In a field experiment involving more than 500,000 individuals at a

retail chain, this paper shows that an additional mechanism is relevant: the framing of

the ask. When individuals are exposed to solicitation by non-affiliates, both

unconditional and conditional average giving declines. Additional results support the

ineffectiveness of social pressure driven strategy. We also show that while

individuals give more and more often when an acknowledgement note for giving is

made available, when such acknowledgement device is offered jointly with "thank

you greeting" by non-affiliates, verbal gratitudes to previous donors reduce overall

unconditional and conditional giving amount. We also provide an evidence that

individuals are more likely to donate when act of giving is less observable by others,

consistent with self-signaling motive to give.

On a related project, we study the effect of varying the manager’s communication

context for delegating the prosocial task to the employees of the retail stores. We

show suggestive evidence that the context of the managerial communication matters:

when the instruction given to the cashier employees is framed in a fashion to provide

more authority to the cashiers, the reduction we observe in average donation under

solicitation appears to disappear. On the final experiment, we apply the theory of the

product salience to shed guidance to optimal store shelf design strategy for the retail

firm interested in inducing customers to buy more healthier or organic food items

without changing prices of any items. To our knowledge, this project is the first

experiment to test the theory of product salience in non-laboratory, firms settings.

Keywords: Field experiment, charitable giving, prosocial behavior,

delegation, framing, social pressure.

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