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Performance Pay, Delegation, and Multitasking under Uncertainty and Innovativeness An Empirical Investigation

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  • Nicolai J. Foss
  • Keld Laursen

Abstract

The existing empirical evidence is somewhat inconclusive with respect to a number of the key predictions of the agency model. Although the reach of agency theory is considerably wider, the dominant portion of work has been taken up with examining the nature of the trade-off between risk and incentives, and the implications thereof for contractual design. More specifically, some researchers have recently noted that the predicted trade-off between risk and incentives turns out to be rather weak, and perhaps non-existent, when confronted with the available empirical evidence. In this paper, we examine the risk-incentives trade-off and related predictions from agency theory on the basis of data from a data set encompassing close to 1000 Danish firms. We find that the relation between the use of performance pay in these firms and the environmental uncertainty they confront which is one way to test the risk/incentives tradeoff is indeed weak and in many cases even perverse. We then suggest, in line with other recent contributions to the literature, that this may be caused by the widespread use of delegation. One effect of delegation is that it breaks the simple relation between risks and incentives. We examine the suggestion that that those firms that are more prone to use delegation of decision rights in their internal organization are facing an uncertain environment to a larger extent than the rest of the population. We argue that this constitutes an indirect confirmation of the hypothesis. We also examine the multi-tasking agency hypothesis that as risk increases, the flexibility of agents is restricted. We fail to find support for this hypothesis. It is suggested that the reason for this finding is also related to delegation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 02-14.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:02-14

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Web page: http://www.druid.dk/

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Keywords: Uncertainty; pay-for-performance; delegation; innovation; competition;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ben-Ner, Avner & Kong, Fanmin & Lluis, Stéphanie, 2012. "Uncertainty, task environment, and organization design: An empirical investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 281-313.
  2. Barth, Erling & Bratsberg, Bernt & Haegeland, Torbjørn & Raaum, Oddbjørn, 2006. "Who Pays for Performance?," IZA Discussion Papers 2142, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Bayo-Moriones, Alberto & Galdon-Sanchez, Jose Enrique & Martinez-de-Morentin, Sara, 2010. "The Diffusion of Pay for Performance across Occupations," IZA Discussion Papers 4839, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus Zimmermann, 2011. "Do ethnic minorities “stretch” their time? UK household evidence on multitasking," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 181-206, June.
  5. Spyros Arvanitis & Euripidis N. Loukis & Vasiliki Diamantopoulou, 2013. "Are ICT, Workplace Organization and Human Capital Relevant for Innovation? A Comparative Study Based on Swiss and Greek Micro Data," KOF Working papers 13-333, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  6. Fidan Ana Kurtulus & Douglas Kruse & Joseph Blasi, 2011. "Worker Attitudes Towards Employee Ownership, Profit Sharing and Variable Pay," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2011-15, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  7. DeVaro, Jed, 2011. "Using "opposing responses" and relative performance to distinguish empirically among alternative models of promotions," MPRA Paper 35175, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Spyros Arvanitis & Tobias Stucki & Florian Seliger, 2013. "The Relative Importance of Human Resource Management Practices for a Firm’s Innovation Performance," KOF Working papers 13-341, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  9. Barth, Erling & Bratsberg, Bernt & Haegeland, Torbjørn & Raaum, Oddbjørn, 2009. "Performance Pay and Within-Firm Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 4137, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Andy Cosh & Xiaolan Fu & Alan Hughes, 2012. "Organisation structure and innovation performance in different environments," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 301-317, September.
  11. Jed Devaro & Fidan Ana Kurtulus, 2011. "An Empirical Analysis of Risk, Incentives and The Delegation of Worker Authority," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2011-13, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  12. Kathrin Armbruster & Michael Beckmann, 2010. "Business environment, managerial strategies, and the allocation of decision-making authorities in Swiss Firms," Working papers 2010/06, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.

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