Awards, incentives and mutual benefit

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Frey argues that if buyers and sellers of labour understand their relationship merely as exchange, workers’ intrinsic motivation can be impaired; this problem can be partially overcome by using awards as a supplementary reward mechanism. I argue that this proposal is self-defeating. In an economy that relies on the division of labour, it is an unavoidable fact that individuals are subject to the will of others; award-giving practices are merely camouflage. However, recognising this fact need not impair anyone’s sense of autonomy as a paid worker if participation in market exchanges is understood as expressing intentions for mutual benefit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5–16
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Review of Economics
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2019


  • Awards
  • Incentives
  • Mutual benefit
  • Intrinsic motivation

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