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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. 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.
  2. Fershtman, C. & Gneezy, U., 1997. "Strategic delegation: An experiment," Discussion Paper 1997-26, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Charness, Gary B, 1999. "Responsibility And Effort In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt7x98w91h, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. Charness, Gary & Jackson, Matthew O., 2009. "The role of responsibility in strategic risk-taking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 241-247, March.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Holger Herz & Tom Wilkening, 2013. "The Lure of Authority: Motivation and Incentive Effects of Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1325-59, June.
  6. 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.
  7. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2008. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," TWI Research Paper Series 32, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
  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. Lucas C. Coffman, 2011. "Intermediation Reduces Punishment (and Reward)," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 77-106, November.
  10. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  11. Gachter, Simon & Falk, Armin, 2002. " Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(1), pages 1-26.
  12. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  13. 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.
  14. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  15. Dirk Sliwka, 2001. "On the Costs and Benefits of Delegation in Organizations," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 157(4), pages 568-, December.
  16. 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..
  17. Ziss, Steffen, 2001. "Horizontal mergers and delegation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 471-492, March.
  18. 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.
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