Overachieving and Obsessive Behavior as Signaling Devices under Career Concern
Dongsoo Shin, Alexander Rodivilov, and Xiaojian Zhao
This paper provides an economic rationale for overachieving behavior in non-professional activities in the labor market. The intrinsically motivated worker uses his achievement in the non-professional activity to signal his work ethic. When the worker's career concern is weak, he exerts no extra effort on his non-professional activity. When the worker's career concern is strong, however, his effort level for the non-professional activity can go beyond the bliss point. With a very strong career concern, an "obsessive behavior" can arise in equilibrium, as the intrinsically motivated worker may choose to sacrifice the professional activity for the non-professional one in an earlier stage of his career.