You do something nice for me, then I do something nice for you. But if we work at the same place, maybe not.

While reciprocity is a strong social force, people in the workplace are far less likely to be generous, unless they believe there’s something in it for them, according to an Academy of Management Discoveries article.

“In normal life, when someone is nice to us, we feel morally obligated to repay the kindness. In organizations, we think about the decision in a more strategic way. It’s less of a moral decision and more of a business decision,” said Peter Belmi of the University of Virginia. Belmi and Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford University are the coauthors of “How ‘Organization’ Can Weaken Reciprocity: The Effects of Attributions for Favors and a Calculative Mindset.”

Read more at AOM Insights