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The Lure of Authority: Motivation and Incentive Effects of Power

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  • Ernst Fehr
  • Holger Herz
  • Tom Wilkening

Abstract

Authority and power permeate political, social, and economic life, but empirical knowledge about the motivational origins and consequences of authority is limited. We study the motivation and incentive effects of authority experimentally in an authority-delegation game. Individuals often retain authority even when its delegation is in their material interest?suggesting that authority has nonpecuniary consequences for utility. Authority also leads to overprovision of effort by the controlling parties, while a large percentage of subordinates underprovide effort despite pecuniary incentives to the contrary. Authority thus has important motivational consequences that exacerbate the inefficiencies arising from suboptimal delegation choices.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.103.4.1325
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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): 4 (June)
Pages: 1325-59

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:4:p:1325-59

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.4.1325
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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Björn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & Holger Herz, 2013. "The intrinsic value of decision rights," ECON - Working Papers 120, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Danz, David & Hüber, Frank & Kübler, Dorothea & Mechtenberg, Lydia & Schmid, Julia, 2013. "'I'll do it by myself as I knew it all along': On the failure of hindsight-biased principals to delegate optimally," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2013-203, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  3. Jürgen Fleiß & Stefan Palan, 2012. "Of Coordinators and Dictators: A Public Goods Experiment," Working Paper Series, Social and Economic Sciences 2012-03, Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Karl-Franzens-University Graz.
  4. Charness, Gary & Cobo-Reyes, Ramon & Lacomba, Juan A & Lagos, Francisco & Perez, Jose M, 2013. "Social comparisons in wage delegation: Experimental evidence," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8j55h1xj, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  5. Sabrina Jeworrek & Vanessa Mertins, 2014. "When Pay Increases are Not Enough: The Economic Value of Wage Delegation in the Field," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201408, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  6. Silverman, Dan & Slemrod, Joel & Uler, Neslihan, 2014. "Distinguishing the role of authority “in” and authority “to”," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 32-42.
  7. David B. Audretsch & Dennis P. Leyden & Albert N. Link, 2012. "Universities as research partners in publicly supported entrepreneurial firms," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(5-6), pages 529-545, December.
  8. Avner Ben-Ner & Matthew Ellman, 2013. "The contributions of behavioural economics to understanding and advancing the sustainability of worker cooperatives," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 2(1), pages 75-100, August.
  9. Lai, Ernest K. & Lim, Wooyoung, 2012. "Authority and communication in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 541-560.
  10. Owens, David & Grossman , Zachary & Fackler , Ryan, 2012. "The Control Premium: A Preference for Payoff Autonomy," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt5bg845s1, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  11. Te Bao & Yongqin Wang, 2012. "Incomplete contract, bargaining and optimal divisional structure," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 107(1), pages 81-96, September.
  12. Daniela Grieco & Marco Faillo & Luca Zarri, 2013. "Top Contributors as Punishers," Working Papers 24/2013, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
  13. Fabio Landini, 2012. "The Evolution of Control in the Digital Economy," Department of Economics University of Siena 655, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  14. Lukas ANGST & Karol Jan BOROWIECKI, 2011. "Delegation and Motivation," Trinity Economics Papers tep1611, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  15. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán-González, 2011. "Don't Ask Me If You Will Not Listen: The Dilemma of Participative Decision Making," Working Papers 11-04, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  16. Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Marina Schröder, 2012. "The Desire to Influence Others," FEMM Working Papers 120027, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
  17. Gary Charness & Ramon Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jimenez & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco Lagos, 2012. "The Hidden Advantage of Delegation: Pareto Improvements in a Gift Exchange Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2358-79, August.
  18. Randolph Sloof & Ferdinand von Siemens, 2014. "Illusion of Control and the Pursuit of Authority," CESifo Working Paper Series 4764, CESifo Group Munich.

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