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Agency and Anxiety

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  • Michael T. Rauh
  • Giulio Seccia

Abstract

"In this paper, we introduce the psychological concept of anxiety into agency theory. An important benchmark in the anxiety literature is the inverted-U hypothesis, which states that an increase in anxiety improves performance when anxiety is low, but reduces it when anxiety is high. We show that the inverted-U hypothesis is consistent with evidence that high-powered incentives can reduce the agent's optimal effort and expected performance. In equilibrium, however, a profit-maximizing principal never offers such counterproductive incentives. We also show that the inverted-U hypothesis can explain empirical anomalies related to monitoring, the informativeness principle, and the risk-reward tradeoff." Copyright (c) 2010, The Author(s) Journal Compilation (c) 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc..

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Economics & Management Strategy.

Volume (Year): 19 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 87-116

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:19:y:2010:i:1:p:87-116

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  1. Gneezy, U. & Rustichini, A., 1998. "Pay Enough - Or Don't Pay at All," Discussion Paper 1998-57, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  3. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  4. Edward P. Lazear, 1996. "Performance Pay and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Baker, George P & Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1988. " Compensation and Incentives: Practice vs. Theory," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 593-616, July.
  6. Dan Ariely & Uri Gneezy & George Loewenstein & Nina Mazar, 2009. "Large Stakes and Big Mistakes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(2), pages 451-469.
  7. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  8. Barkema, Harry G, 1995. "Do Top Managers Work Harder When They Are Monitored?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 19-42.
  9. Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-84, September.
  10. Michael T. Rauh & Giulio Seccia, 2006. "Anxiety And Performance: An Endogenous Learning-By-Doing Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(2), pages 583-609, 05.
  11. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  12. Vives, X., 1988. "Nash Equilibrium With Strategic Complementarities," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 107-88, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  13. Bengt Holmstrom & Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 742, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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