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Department ofEconomics


Overachieving and Obsessive Behavior as Signaling Devices under Career Concern

Dongsoo Shin, Alexander Rodivilov, and Xiaojian Zhao

Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics


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.

LSB Research, ECON, Dongsoo Shin, Forthcoming