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The Hidden Advantage of Delegation: Pareto Improvements in a Gift Exchange Game

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Author Info

  • Gary Charness
  • Ramon Cobo-Reyes
  • Natalia Jimenez
  • Juan A. Lacomba
  • Francisco Lagos

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effect on performance and earnings of delegating the wage choice to employees. Our results show that such delegation significantly increases effort levels. Moreover, we observe a Pareto improvement, as the earnings of both employers and employees increase when employers delegate than when they do not. Interestingly, we also find that the employees' performance under delegation is higher than under nondelegation, even for similar wages. While there is strong evidence that behavior reflects strategic considerations, this result also holds for one-shot interactions. A possible nonstrategic motivation explaining the positive reaction to delegation is a sense of enhanced responsibility. (JEL J31, J33, J41)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 (August)
Pages: 2358-79

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:5:p:2358-79

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  1. Sliwka, Dirk, 1999. "On the Costs and Benefits of Delegation in Organizations," Discussion Paper Serie A 600, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869, August.
  3. Charness, Gary B & Jackson, Matthew O., 2007. "The Role of Responsibility in Strategic Risk-Taking," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt2mk4p42w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2008. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," IEW - Working Papers 380, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Fershtman, C & Gneezy, U, 1996. "Strategic Delegation : An Experiment," Papers 43-96, Tel Aviv.
  6. Ernst Fehr & Holger Herz & Tom Wilkening, 2012. "The Lure of Authority: Motivation and Incentive Effects of Power," CESifo Working Paper Series 4021, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Gary Charness & Ramón Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jiménez & Juan Antonio Lacomba & Francisco Lagos, 2010. "The power of delegation: Allowing workers to choose their wage," ThE Papers 09/07, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  8. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
  9. Charness, Gary, 2000. "Responsibility and effort in an experimental labor market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 375-384, July.
  10. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000. "A Fine is a Price," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
  11. Gary Charness & David I. Levine, 2007. "Intention and Stochastic Outcomes: An Experimental study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 1051-1072, 07.
  12. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  13. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  14. Ziss, Steffen, 2001. "Horizontal mergers and delegation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 471-492, March.
  15. Simon Gaechter & Armin Falk, . "Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," IEW - Working Papers 019, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  16. Lucas C. Coffman, 2011. "Intermediation Reduces Punishment (and Reward)," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 77-106, November.
  17. John R. Hamman & George Loewenstein & Roberto A. Weber, 2010. "Self-Interest through Delegation: An Additional Rationale for the Principal-Agent Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1826-46, September.
  18. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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