People like working with their friends, but it makes them less productive

From Sangyoon Park:

Through a field experiment at a seafood-processing plant, I examine how working alongside friends affects employee productivity and how this effect is heterogeneous with respect to an employee’s personality. This paper presents two main findings. First, worker productivity declines when a friend is close enough to socialize with. Second, workers who are higher on the conscientiousness scale show smaller productivity declines when working alongside a friend. Estimates suggest that a median worker is willing to pay 4.5 percent of her wage to work next to friends.

That is from American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, via Adam Ozimek.


This is why immigration is so important. It prevents the natives from getting too chummy with each other and bring down the quarterly numbers.

Did one of those Mexicans steal your job, hun?

No, in fact I pay them $2 an hour to care for my children while I go to work to watch my H1B Indian programmers slave away from my office overlooking their holding pen as I get a blowjob from my illegal immigrant secretary. Que bonita!

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Love to chat with my friends while we work at the seafood-processing facility!

I once laboured for a couple of months in a small factory in NJ. The workers on the production line were all women; their ethnic background was somewhere in Eastern Europe. On Friday afternoon they would sometimes sing folk-songs together. I was charmed.

There were two foremen. One was a southerner (I thought of him as "the Confederate"); he treated them in a courteous and businesslike way. The other, a local Greek-American, bullied them. (I thought of him as "the twat".)

I don't know whether the women were friends but they certainly needed to stick together.

Away with work enjoyment! Maximizing marginal production is all!!!!!!!!

Work isn't supposed to be pleasant, that's why wages are paid. Most of the increasingly decrepit lower managerial class have hated going to work every day of their life and automatically assume that anyone enjoying even a second of their eight hours of torture must be screwing off and deserves to be fired. Happy workers need to wait for these people in the parking lot and show them what real misery is.

"Work isn't supposed to be pleasant, that's why wages are paid." Then why are the highest paying jobs also the ones with the best work conditions? Garbage men don't exactly make more money than ball players.

yeah, the Amish community is so unproductive on the personal level....?

but seriously now -- this was a tiny, very subjective observation of just one "seafood-processing plant".
there's no way an economist can legitimately draw broad conclusions about the general work force from this extremely non-representative sample. (but it gets published anyway)

"there's no way an economist can legitimately draw broad conclusions"
you are new here, aren't you?

I can't get the paper, but how much does worker productivity decline? Is it fully offset by the 4.5% salary reduction? Did they account for the less turnover that would likely accompany the friendships? Maybe not for a food processing plant, but the less turnover, along with loss of knowledge and training, may overwhelm all the other concerns.

Living in a boomtown with a labor pipeline from Mexico, I've had much opportunity to observe Mexican construction work crews. You can tell when they have a lot of experience working together (often, they're related) - they work so well, that they barely need to speak to one another about the tasks they are doing, or the choreography of those tasks. As a result, their minds seem practically free and they are able to do lots of joking around.

(Not that an Anglo or other crew couldn't or doesn't have the exact same dynamic - although I expect family size does play a role in producing it - I've just never had occasion to see an Anglo or black construction crew - the neighborhood I grew up in was finished before I was born; now it would obviously be difficult if not indeed impossible for an American to even break into a Mexican crew.)

During college my brother and I worked for my Dad doing masonry work. We soon figured how to work well together . Both of us went to help a cousin lift a beam into place for a remodel, with two others helping. It wasn't going well until we asked the two others not to help. Same as you said, we just knew what the other was doing and weren't fighting each other's efforts.

Maybe having a friend work next to you is a disguised form of compensation, which would let the employer offer a lower wage.

Anyone who has ever worked knows that employers try to make employees happy, because if they don't, they will leave.

It's not just the bucks.

Another example of how economists are quasi-human in their understanding of humans.

Also, does the study control for turnover, and the costs of training a new person to replace the person who left because they were unhappy. Also, the cost of search for a new employee to replace the one who left.

If you just measure wages and ignore costs of turnover you are not a good manager.

They should have patterned the study after that classic scene where Lucy and Ethel can't keep up with the speeding conveyor belt

Big shock ahead. Brazil has officially declared it will implement unilateral measures regarding the nioboim trade. The South American country controls the profitable niobium market.

Fingers crossed. Come on investment in Australian Niobium! Don't go investing in Canada, they're too close to the US. But if Trump decides he doesn't like Australia there's a 50% chance he'll attack Austria by mistake.

"nioboim" is lovely: it sounds as if it might be a Portuguese folk dance or a little-known wine grape.

Ă“bvios lyrics Internet me antes niobium.

Question is does the decline in productivity exceed the 4.5% wage reduction?

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