International Perspective: Katz Down Under

Vicky Hoffman, Accounting, Katz Graduate School of Business
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A 14-hour time difference and 10,000 miles may separate Pittsburgh from New South Wales, Australia, yet Professor Vicky Hoffman from the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration and her colleague Ken Trotman from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have remained friends and collaborators since they first met at the University of Michigan many years ago.

“Ken and I stayed in touch, and he has asked me to visit UNSW for several years,” says Hoffman, who is a Katz Professor of Business Administration and James. H. Rossell Endowed Faculty Fellow. “In 2016, I decided to accept the offer to serve as a visiting faculty in residence. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but then he invited me to come back in 2017.”

During her time at UNSW, Hoffman met with UNSW faculty and PhD students to discuss their experimental research projects. She reviewed and offered feedback on some research proposals. Hoffman also presented a working paper, "Do Effort Differences Between Bonus and Penalty Contracts Persist in Labor Markets?," to the school’s faculty and PhD students.

The paper is a collaboration with Professors George C. Gonzalez (Katz PhD ’12), assistant professor, Faculty of Management, University of Lethbridge, and Don Moser, Professor of Business Administration and Dean’s Excellence Faculty Fellow in Accounting at Katz.

The paper examined the implications of contract type on worker performance. The study tests predictions through an experiment using two labor markets, one in which employers chose to offer a bonus contract or an economically equivalent penalty contract, and another in which employers couldn’t choose which type of contract to offer. The co-authors found that workers provide the most effort when employers can choose which contract to offer and when workers can choose which contract to work under. In that scenario, there is no longer any difference in the worker’s effort between bonus or penalty contracts.

“My time at UNSW was incredibly busy and very productive,” Hoffman says. “I’m grateful to Ken and UNSW for hosting me and for giving me the chance to share some of the research and projects I am working on.”

Coincidentally, several of Hoffman’s UNSW colleagues will be in Pittsburgh later this year for the 2017 Accounting, Behavior and Organizations Research Conference at the Westin Convention Center. The conference will provide more opportunities to share ideas and build new connections across the globe.