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What Are You Hiding? Pay Secrecy and Its Effect on Employees’ Misreporting

Brown, Conor Van Court (2023) What Are You Hiding? Pay Secrecy and Its Effect on Employees’ Misreporting. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract: Using two experiments, I examine three research questions. First, I explore how pay inequity (i.e., unexplained differences in employee pay) affects management’s choice of a pay secrecy or pay transparency policy. Second, I examine how this choice affects employee misreporting and the signal the policy choice sends about pay inequity. Finally, I test how employees respond when pay information is disclosed through unintended leakage after management chooses a pay secrecy policy. I find that management tries to hide pay inequity by choosing a pay secrecy policy. However, this strategy is ineffective because employees interpret a pay secrecy policy as a signal that pay is inequitable. Specifically, pay secrecy does not reduce misreporting among inequitably paid employees relative to pay transparency. I also find that a pay secrecy policy increases misreporting among equitably paid employees because they mistakenly believe their pay is inequitable. Finally, employees react more negatively when they learn their pay is inequitable through a leak than from a pay transparency policy. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Brown, Conor Van Courtcob34@pitt.educob340000-0002-1262-7148
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMoser,
Committee MemberEvans III, John
Committee MemberHoffman,
Committee MemberMartin,
Committee MemberQin,
Date: 20 May 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 December 2022
Approval Date: 20 May 2023
Submission Date: 19 December 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 60
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: College of Business Administration > Accounting
College of Business Administration > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pay Secrecy; Pay Transparency; Pay Comparisons; Misreporting; Budgetary Slack
Date Deposited: 20 May 2023 19:15
Last Modified: 20 May 2023 19:15


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