Portrait image for Jana Gallus

Jana Gallus

Associate Professor of Strategy and Behavioral Decision Making
“People respond to incentives — financial, such as bonuses, and nonfinancial, such as public recognition. I am intrigued by how we can design incentive systems that leverage people’s nonfinancial motivations, and evaluate their impact on organizational performance in the field.”
(310)206-6903, Office D-508
Areas of Expertise:
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Experimental Economics
  • Incentives
  • Microeconomics
  • Motivation
  • Online Community Management
  • Personnel Economics
  • Strategy


I am an economist with a keen interest in studying incentives and social relationships.

My research and teaching lie at the intersection of strategy, innovation, and behavioral economics. I have worked with several organizations, including Wikipedia, NASA, private sector firms (mostly tech), the American Red Cross, hospitals, schools, and universities.

I am currently building the Center for Incentive Design, which adopts an interdisciplinary approach to pressing societal issues in education, health, and housing.

I serve as an Associate Editor at Management Science, standing panelist for the National Science Foundation (NSF), and as the Director of the UCLA Anderson Behavioral Lab. I advise organizations in educational technology, the non-profit sector, and public policy.


Ph. D. Economics, summa cum laude, 2015, University of Zurich

Double Master: Finance and Strategy, International Affairs and Governance, 2009–2011, University of St. Gallen and Sciences Po Paris

Bachelor and Master, 2006–2011, Sciences Po Paris

Selected Publications 

When peer comparison information harms physician well-being (J. Reiff, J.C. Zhang, J. Gallus, H. Dai, N. Pedley, S. Vangala, R.K. Leuchter, C.R. Fox, M. Han, D.M. Croymans). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022, 119 (29). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2121730119.

Relational incentives theory (with Joseph Reiff, Emir Kamenica, and Alan P. Fiske). Psychological Review, 2022, 129 (3): 586-602.

The demotivating effect (and unintended message) of awards (with Carly D. Robinson, Monica G. Lee, and Todd Rogers). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2021, 163: 51-64. 

Gender, authority and emotion in the collaborative production of knowledge on Wikipedia (with Sudeep Bhatia). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2020, 160: 115-130. 

Awards and the gender gap in knowledge contributions in STEM (with Emma Heikensten). American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings, 2020, 110: 241-244.

Fostering public good contributions with symbolic awards: A large-scale natural field experiment at Wikipedia. Management Science, 2017, 63(12): 3999–4015 
Abridged version published in Proceedings of the 76th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. Online ISSN: 2151-6561

Awards: A strategic management perspective (with Bruno S. Frey). Strategic Management Journal, 2016, 37(8): 1699–1714 [Video abstract]

Awards as strategic signals (with Bruno S. Frey). Journal of Management Inquiry, 2017, 26(1): 76–85 

Towards an economics of awards (with Bruno S. Frey). Journal of Economic Surveys, 2017, 31(1): 190–200

External influence as an indicator of scholarly importance (with Ho Fai Chan, Bruno S. Frey, Markus Schaffner, Benno Torgler, and Stephen Whyte). CESifo Economic Studies, 2016, 62(1): 170–195 

Honors: A rational choice analysis of award bestowals (with Bruno S. Frey). Rationality and Society, 2016, 28(3): 255–269 

Awards as non-monetary incentives (with Bruno S. Frey). Evidence-based HRM, 2016, 4(1): 81-91.

Academic honors and performance (with Ho Fai Chan, Bruno S. Frey, and Benno Torgler). Labour Economics, 2014, 31: 188–204 

Do the best scholars attract the highest speaking fees? An exploration of internal and external influence (with Ho Fai Chan, Bruno S. Frey, Markus Schaffner, Benno Torgler, and Stephen Whyte). Scientometrics, 2014, 101: 793–817

The power of awards (with Bruno S. Frey). The Economists’ Voice, 2014, 11(1): 1–5.

Open issues in happiness research (with Bruno S. Frey and Lasse Steiner). International Review of Economics, 2014, 61(2): 115–125.

Aggregate effects of behavioral anomalies: A new research area (with Bruno S. Frey). Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 2014, 8(2014-18): 1–15.

Political economy of happiness (with Bruno S. Frey). Applied Economics, 2013, 45(30): 4205–4211.

Subjective well-being and policy (with Bruno S. Frey). Topoi –International Review of Philosophy, 2013, 32(2): 207–212.

Happiness policy and economic development (with Bruno S. Frey). International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2012, 1(1): 102–111.

Book Publications 

Honours versus Money: The Economics of Awards (B.S. Frey, J. Gallus). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Motivation and awards (B.S. Frey, J. Gallus). In: Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Economic Behaviour, Alan Lewis (Ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Volunteer organizations: Motivating with awards (B.S. Frey, J. Gallus). In: Economic Psychology, Rob Ranyard (Ed.). Malden, US: Wiley/Blackwell, 2018.

Happiness: Research and policy considerations (B.S. Frey, J. Gallus). In: Happiness, Tachibanaki Toshiaki (Ed.). Welfare Plus Alpha, 2016.

General Interest

The best ways to give employees performance awards (J. Gallus). 2018, The Wall Street Journal.

Awards, honours, and ribbons: Between fame and shame (with Bruno S. Frey). March 2015, VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal.

Reply to Peter E. Earl’s article “Anchoring in economics: On Frey and Gallus on the aggregation of behavioural anomalies” (with Bruno S. Frey). October 2014, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal.

Motivation – ausgezeichnet (with Bruno S. Frey). September 2014, VR Praxis, UnternehmerZeitung.

Auszeichnungen – Würde oder Bürde? Eine Frage der Motivation (with Bruno S. Frey). June 2014, Basler Zeitung.

Ein schöner Orden und eine würdige Feier (with Bruno S. Frey). November 2013, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Die Freude am Geld schwindet (with Bruno S. Frey). November 2013, Weltwoche.

Interne und externe Bedeutung von Ökonomen (with Bruno S. Frey, Markus Schaffner, and Benno Torgler). September 2013, Ökonomenstimme.

Extrinsische Anreize – Die Macht der Auszeichnung (with Bruno S. Frey). June 2013, Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

Award the Deserving (with Bruno S. Frey). May 2013, New York Times, Room for Debate.

Auszeichnungen steigern die wissenschaftliche Leistung (with Chan, Ho Fai, Bruno Frey, Jana Gallus and Benno Torgler). March 2013, Ökonomenstimme.

Auszeichnungen als Anreiz (with Bruno S. Frey). August 2012, Ökonomenstimme.

Beautiful people earn more... and are moreover happier (with Bruno S. Frey). March 2012, VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal.

La religiosité rend heureux, mais les églises se vident (with Bruno S. Frey). November 2011, Telos.

Religion makes people happy, so why is church attendance declining? (with Bruno S. Frey). October 2011, VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal.

Press (selection)

Motivation kann man sich nicht kaufen (J. Gallus, interview). 2021, NZZ am Sonntag.

The best ways to give employees performance awards (J. Gallus). 2018, The Wall Street Journal.

“Allein – aber nicht einsam” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Mar 2021.

“Professorin Jana Gallus und ihre Mission – Mehr als ein Marathon” Frankfurter Rundschau, Mar 2021.

“Diese Hessin wuppt in den USA einen weltweiten Online-Marathon” Hessenschau, Mar 2021.

“Would you rather have an award or some cash?” How The World Works podcast, Dec 2020. 

“Jana Gallus: The role of precision in incentives.” Behavioral Grooves podcast, Dec 2019. Hidden Brain, a podcast by NPR, 2019.

“Why employee rewards are frequently ineffective and potentially counterproductive.” Quartz, Sep 2019.

“Barnstar-like awards increase new editor retention.” Wikimedia Research Newsletter 9, Mar 2019.

“Making work meaningful: A leader’s guide.” McKinsey Quarterly, Oct 2018.

“Science confirms it: People are not pets.” New York Times, Oct 2018.

“'Rewards don't improve school attendance'.” BBC News. Aug 2018.

Interview: “What are Oscars and other non-cash awards really worth?” (podcast and print). Los Angeles Times, Feb 22, 2017.

Distinction as "most promising economist" by DIE ZEIT: "Jana Gallus ist unsere vielversprechendste Ökonomin. Als Dank ein Edelweiß: Die Wirtschaftswissenschaftlerin Jana Gallus erforscht, wieso Geld allein die Menschen nur schlecht motiviert." Dec 2016.

“What makes Wikipedia's volunteer editors volunteer?” Scientific American. May 2016.


Keynote - Motivations and Incentives: An Evidence-Based Approach to Community Management

Strategic Management Journal Video Abstract: “Awards: A strategic management perspective"

Jana Gallus discusses her paper, co-authored with Bruno Frey, on how rewards affect motivation and performance. The paper is here: