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Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective

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  • Holmstrom, Bengt

Abstract

This paper studies how a person's concern for a future career may influence his or her incentives to put in effort or make decisions on the job. In the model, the person's productive abilities are revealed over time through observations of performance. There are no explicit output-contingent contracts, but since the wage in each period is based on expected output and expected output depends on assessed ability, an 'implicit contract' links today's performance to future wages. An incentive problem arises from the person's ability and desire to influence the learning process, and therefore the wage process, by taking unobserved actions that affect today's performance. The fundamental incongruity in preferences is between the individual's concern for human capital returns and the firm's concern for financial returns. The two need be only weakly related. It is shown that career motives can be beneficial as well as detrimental, depending on how well the two kinds of capital returns are aligned. Copyright 1999 by The Review of Economic Studies Limited.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 66 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 169-82

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Handle: RePEc:bla:restud:v:66:y:1999:i:1:p:169-82

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References

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  1. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  2. Steven Shavell, 1979. "Risk Sharing and Incentives in the Principal and Agent Relationship," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 55-73, Spring.
  3. Medoff, James L & Abraham, Katharine G, 1980. "Experience, Performance, and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 703-36, December.
  4. Stein, Jeremy C, 1989. "Efficient Capital Markets, Inefficient Firms: A Model of Myopic Corporate Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 655-69, November.
  5. Meyer, Margaret A & Vickers, John, 1997. "Performance Comparisons and Dynamic Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 547-81, June.
  6. Radner, Roy, 1981. "Monitoring Cooperative Agreements in a Repeated Principal-Agent Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(5), pages 1127-48, September.
  7. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1990. "Optimal Incentive Contracts In The Presence Of Career Concerns: Theory And Evidence," Working papers 563, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
  9. Holmstrom, Bengt & Ricart i Costa, Joan, 1986. "Managerial Incentives and Capital Management," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 835-60, November.
  10. James A. Mirrlees, 1976. "The Optimal Structure of Incentives and Authority Within an Organization," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(1), pages 105-131, Spring.
  11. Scharfstein, David. & Stein, Jeremy C., 1988. "Herd behavior and investment," Working papers WP 2062-88., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  12. Harris, Milton & Holstrom, Bengt, 1982. "A Theory of Wage Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 315-33, July.
  13. Ross, Stephen A, 1973. "The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal's Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 134-39, May.
  14. Jeon, Seonghoon, 1996. "Moral hazard and reputational concerns in teams: Implications for organizational choice," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 297-315, May.
  15. Sherwin Rosen, 1982. "Authority, Control, and the Distribution of Earnings," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 311-323, Autumn.
  16. Borland, Jeff, 1992. " Career Concerns: Incentives and Endogenous Learning in Labour Markets," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 251-70.
  17. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1979. "Optimal incentive contracts with imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 231-259, April.
  18. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
  19. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1986. "A "Signal-Jamming" Theory of Predation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 366-376, Autumn.
  20. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
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