Staunton, Oct. 1 – Most Russians believe they are unjustly paid too little and also say that if their pay were increased, they would work harder. But a new study by two HSE scholars, Vladimir Karacharovsky and Mariya Gurulyeva, finds is not true: No matter how much pay might be increased for the same work, Russians would not be motivated to be more productive.
They report this conclusion in “The Motivation Trap in the Russian Labor Market” (in Russian; Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya, 8 (2023): 34-46, which is summarized by Marina Salinina at iq.hse.ru/news/862422550.html). In fact, they say, 51.3 percent of those studied aren’t ready to devote more effort even if their incomes rise and the work becomes more interesting.
A major reason for this pattern, the investigators suggest, is that Russians see a fundamental disconnect between what they are paid and what they do. Only about a third believe that any changes in their wages would reflect their personal actions, and slightly more than that think that any increase would be a government decision.
Russians who had university-educated parents were somewhat less likely to say that if their wages were increased, they would work more. And all this means, the scholars say, is that “a simple increase in wages will not lead to an increase in productivity” among those employed in the Russian economy.
In fact, they suggest, giving more money to those who appear likely to work harder will only backfire causing resentment among those who have a different attitude. The only way this “motivation trap” can be overcome, they conclude, is to gradually increase wages across the board so that individuals can see a link between effort and pay.