Shirking and “choking” under incentive-based pressure: A behavioral economic theory of performance production
AbstractSignificant empirical evidence exists within psychology and economics that greater incentives under pressure can lead to lower performance outcomes. However, standard economic theory does not account for this possibility. Efficiency wage models, for example, conclude a positive relationship between wage incentives and productivity. While efficiency wage models are shown to describe productivity behavior in numerous settings, said models do not describe labor markets featuring (counterproductive) performance pressure. We put forth a theoretical model of performance production in which performance incentives induce productive effects and counterproductive effects. The model treats explicit monitoring and distraction as distinct, counterproductive processes within a cohesive theory of performance production. In settings featuring performance pressure, we find that higher levels of performance-contingent compensation may decrease not only labor output (i.e., likelihood of task success) but also labor input (i.e., effort) if counterproductive processes decrease the marginal effectiveness of effort sufficiently. The latter finding challenges a common view that performance decrements under pressure occur despite greater effort levels.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics Letters.
Volume (Year): 116 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolet
Performance incentives; Choking under pressure; Shirking under pressure;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Economics; Underlying Principles
- J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
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