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The "Ratchet Principle" and Performance Incentives

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  • Martin L. Weitzman

Abstract

The use of current performance as a partial basis for setting future targets is an almost universal feature of economic planning. This "ratchet principle," as it is sometimes called, creates a dynamic incentive problem for the enterprise. Higher rewards from better current performance must be weighed against the future assignment of more ambitious targets. In this paper I formulate the problem of the enterprise as a multiperiod stochastic optimization model incorporating an explicit feedback mechanism for target setting. I show that an optimal solution is easily characterized, and that the incentive effects of the ratchet principle can be fully analyzed in simple economic terms.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by The RAND Corporation in its journal Bell Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 11 (1980)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring)
Pages: 302-308

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Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:11:y:1980:i:spring:p:302-308

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Cited by:
  1. Tran Thi, Que Giang, 2008. "The Impacts of Corporate Governance On the Performance of Privatized Firms In Vietnam," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/3860, Paris Dauphine University.
  2. Charles Bellemare & Bruce Shearer, 2014. "Measuring Ratchet Effects within a Firm: Evidence from a Field Experiment varying Contractual Commitment," Cahiers de recherche 1418, CIRPEE.
  3. Graeme Guthrie, 2006. "Regulating Infrastructure: The Impact on Risk and Investment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 925-972, December.
  4. J�nos Kornai & Eric Maskin & G�rard Roland, 2003. "Understanding the Soft Budget Constraint," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1095-1136, December.
  5. Schnedler, Wendelin & Vanberg, Christoph, 2014. "Playing ‘hard to get’: An economic rationale for crowding out of intrinsically motivated behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 106-115.
  6. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce S., 2014. "Measuring Ratchet Effects within a Firm: Evidence from a Field Experiment Varying Contractual Commitment," IZA Discussion Papers 8214, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Crémer, Jacques, 2009. "Arm's length relationships without moral hazard," TSE Working Papers 09-111, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  8. Scott Gehlbach, 2003. "Taxability and Government Support of Business Activity: Testing Theories of Social-Contract Failure," Working Papers w0028, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  9. Harrison, Mark, 2010. "Forging Success: Soviet Managers and Accounting Fraud, 1943 to 1962," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 34, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  10. Alexeev, Michael & Kurlyandskaya, Galina, 2003. "Fiscal federalism and incentives in a Russian region," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 20-33, March.
  11. Gerakos, Joseph & Kovrijnykh, Andrei, 2013. "Performance shocks and misreporting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 57-72.
  12. Hehui Jin & Yingyi Qian & Barry Weingast, 1999. "Regional Decentralization and Fiscal Incentives: Federalism, Chinese Style," Working Papers 99013, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  13. Curtis Taylor & Liad Wagman, 2008. "Who Benefits From Online Privacy?," Working Papers 08-26, NET Institute.
  14. Bogaard, Hein & Svejnar, Jan, 2013. "Incentive Pay and Performance: Insider Econometrics in a Multi-Unit Firm," IZA Discussion Papers 7800, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Harrison, Mark, 2011. "Forging success: Soviet managers and accounting fraud, 1943-1962," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 43-64, March.
  16. Schnedler, Wendelin & Vanberg, Christoph, 2014. "Playing 'Hard to Get': An Economic Rationale for Crowding Out of Intrinsically Motivated Behavior," Working Papers 0559, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  17. Kornai, János & Maskin, Eric & Roland, Gérard, 2004. "A puha költségvetési korlát - II
    [The soft budget constraint II]
    ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(9), pages 777-809.
  18. Edward P. Lazear, 1986. "Incentive Contracts," NBER Working Papers 1917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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