We use an incentivized experimental game to uncover heterogeneity in social preferences among salespeople in a large Austrian retail chain. Our results show that the majority of agents take the welfare of others into account but a significant fraction reveal selfish behavior. Matching individual behavior in the game with firm data on sales performance shows that agents with social preferences achieve a significantly higher revenue per customer. However, at the same time, they achieve fewer sales per day. Both effects offset each other, so that the overall association with total sales revenue becomes insignificant. Our findings highlight the nuanced role of selfish versus social preferences in sales contexts with important implications for economic research.
Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Vol. 32, Issue4, pp. 882-905, 2023