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Adding a Stick to the Carrot? The Interaction of Bonuses and Fines

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  • Ernst Fehr
  • Klaus M. Schmidt

Abstract

In this paper we report on a principal-agent experiment where the principal can choose whether to rely on an unenforcable bonus contract or to combine the bonus contract with a fine if the agent’s effort falls below a minimum standard. We show that most principals do not use the fine and that the pure bonus contract is more efficient than the combined contract. Our experiment suggests that principals who are less fair are more likely to choose a combined contract and less likely to actually pay the announced bonus. This offers a new explanation for why explicit and implicit incentives are substitutes rather than complements.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.97.2.177
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/may07/p07040_data.zip
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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 97 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 177-181

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:2:p:177-181

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.2.177
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References

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  1. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough Or Don'T Pay At All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810, August.
  2. Benabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2005. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 1695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Armin Falk & Michael Kosfeld, . "The Hidden Costs of Control," IEW - Working Papers 250, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives-Trust and Trustworthiness Among CEOs," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 743-771, 09.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2004. "Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal-Agent Model," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 453-474, October.
  6. Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520, 07.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
  8. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "A fine is a price," Natural Field Experiments 00258, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Sliwka, Dirk, 2006. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," IZA Discussion Papers 2293, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2007. "Fairness and contract design," Munich Reprints in Economics 20618, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  11. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Antoni Cunyat & Randolph Sloof, 2009. "Employee types and endofenous organizational design: An experiment," Working Papers. Serie AD 2009-04, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  2. Golman, Russell & Bhatia, Sudeep, 2012. "Performance evaluation inflation and compression," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 534-543.
  3. Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
  4. Sääksvuori, Lauri, 2013. "Voluntary formation of centralized sanctioning institutions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 150-159.
  5. Hessel Oosterbeek & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2006. "Rent-seeking versus Productive Activities in a Multi-task Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-083/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Maria Bigoni & Giancarlo Spagnolo & Paola Valbonesi, 2010. "Sticks and Carrots in Procurement," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0105, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  7. Tetlock, Philip E. & Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Patil, Shefali V. & Grant, Adam M., 2013. "Accountability and ideology: When left looks right and right looks left," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 22-35.
  8. Flynn, Sean Masaki & Donnelly, Michael, 2012. "Does labor contract completeness drive unionization? Experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 445-454.
  9. Herold, Florian, 2010. "Contractual incompleteness as a signal of trust," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 180-191, January.

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