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Competition and the Ratchet Effect

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  • Gary Charness
  • Peter Kuhn
  • Marie Claire Villeval

Abstract

In labor markets, the ratchet effect refers to a situation where workers subject to performance pay choose to restrict their output, because they rationally anticipate that firms will respond to higher output levels by raising output requirements or by cutting pay. We model this effect as a multiperiod principal-agent problem with hidden information and study its robustness to labor market competition both theoretically and experimentally. Consistent with our theoretical model, we observe substantial ratchet effects in the absence of competition, which are nearly eliminated when competition is introduced; this is true regardless of whether market conditions favor firms or workers.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/659347
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 29 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 513 - 547

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/659347

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References

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  1. S. Bucovetsky, 2003. "Efficient Migration and Income Tax Competition," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 249-278, 04.
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  3. Dearden, J. & Ickes, B.W. & Samuelson, L., 1988. "To Innovate Or Not To Innovate: Incentives And Innovation In Hierarchies," Papers 0-88-1, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  4. Cabrales, Antonio & Charness, Gary & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2006. "Competition, Hidden Information and Efficiency: An Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2296, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Lemieux, Thomas & MacLeod, W. Bentley & Parent, Daniel, 2007. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2850, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Jay Pil Choi & Marcel Thum, 2000. "The Dynamics of Corruption with the Ratchet Effect," CESifo Working Paper Series 334, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Dillen, M. & Lundholm, M., 1992. "Dynamic Income Taxation, Redistribution, and the Ratchet Effect," Papers 1992-3, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  8. Peter Kuhn & Fernando Lozano, 2008. "The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours among U.S. Men, 1979-2006," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 311-343, 04.
  9. Allen, Douglas W. & Lueck, Dean, 1999. "Searching For Ratchet Effects In Agricultural Contracts," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(02), December.
  10. Puller, Steven L., 2006. "The strategic use of innovation to influence regulatory standards," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 690-706, November.
  11. Roland, Gerard & Sekkat, Khalid, 2000. "Managerial career concerns, privatization and restructuring in transition economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(10), pages 1857-1872, December.
  12. Ananish Chaudhuri, 1997. "The Ratchet Principle in a Principal Agent Game with Unknown Costs: An Experimental Analysis," Departmental Working Papers 199608, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  13. Freixas, Xavier & Guesnerie, Roger & Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Planning under Incomplete Information and the Ratchet Effect," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 173-91, April.
  14. Barry W. Ickes & Larry Samuelson, 1987. "Job Transfers and Incentives in Complex Organizations: Thwarting the Ratchet Effect," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 275-286, Summer.
  15. Dalen, Dag Morten, 1995. "Efficiency-improving investment and the ratchet effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1511-1522, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Ottorino Chillemi & Benedetto Gui & Lorenzo Rocco, 2013. "The value of information disclosure under local learning. The case of fixed types," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0161, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  2. Gary Charness & Marie Claire Villeval & Antonio Cabrales, 2009. "Hidden Information, Bargaining Power and Efficiency: An Experiment," Working Papers 2009-08, FEDEA.
  3. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Arjan Non & Willem Verbeke, 2010. "Dynamic Incentive Effects of Relative Performance Pay: A Field Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-124/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 27 Sep 2011.
  4. John S. Heywood & Uwe Jirjahn, 2011. "Variable Pay, Industrial Relations and Foreign Ownership: Evidence from Germany," Research Papers in Economics 2011-05, University of Trier, Department of Economics.
  5. Socha, Karolina, 2014. "Mixed reimbursement of hospitals: Securing high activity and global expenditures control?," COHERE Working Paper 2014:3, COHERE - Centre of Health Economics Research, University of Southern Denmark.

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