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Worker Cooperation and the Ratchet Effect

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  • Carmichael, H Lorne
  • MacLeod, W Bentley

Abstract

Workers paid by the piece should be happy to introduce new techniques that increase output, but firms always seem to reduce the piece rate when workers start earning too much money. Workers respond by restricting output and keeping good new ideas to themselves. We show that this outcome is inevitable in a competitive environment. However, there are noncompetitive situations where firms can use piece rates to get cooperation from their workers. These predictions are consistent with case history evidence from the cotton spinning industry in England in the nineteenth century and the Lincoln Electric Company in the United States even today. Copyright 2000 by University of Chicago Press.

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 18 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-19

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:18:y:2000:i:1:p:1-19

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Cited by:
  1. Stefanec, Noah Patrick, 2010. "Incentive pay: Productivity, sorting, and adjacent rents," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 171-179, April.
  2. Waldman, Michael, 2007. "Theory and evidence in internal labor markets," MPRA Paper 5113, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Joshua Herries & Daniel I. Rees & Jeffrey S. Zax, 2003. "Interdependence in worker productivity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 585-604.
  4. Avner Ben-Ner & Fanmin Kong & St├ęphanie Lluis, 2011. "Uncertainty, Task Environment, and Organization Design: An Empirical Investigation," Working Papers 1105, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2011.
  5. Colin Green & John Heywood, 2012. "Don't Forget the Gravy! Are Bonuses and Time Rates Complements?," Working Papers 13424023, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
  6. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  7. Avner Ben-Ner & Fanmin Kong & Stephanie Lluis, . "Uncertainty and Organization Design," Working Papers 0107, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
  8. Bingley, P. & Eriksson, T, 2001. "Pay Spread and Skewness. Employee Effort and Firm Productivity," Papers 01-2, Aarhus School of Business - Department of Economics.
  9. Jordi Domenech, 2005. "Labour market adjustment to economic downturns in the Catalan textile industry, 1880-1910: did employers breach implicit contracts?," Economic History Working Papers 22333, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  10. Arghya Ghosh & Takao Kato & Hodaka Morita, 2012. "Continuous improvement and competitive pressure in the presence of discrete innovation," Discussion Papers 2012-17, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  11. 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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