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It's What You Say Not What You Pay

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  • Jordi Brandts

    ()

  • David J. Cooper

    ()

Abstract

We study manager-employee interactions in experiments set in a corporate environment where payoffs depend on employees coordinating at high effort levels; the underlying game being played repeatedly by employees is a weak-link game. In the absence of managerial intervention subjects invariably slip into coordination failure. To overcome a history of coordination failure, managers have two instruments at their disposal, increasing employees' financial incentives to coordinate and communication with employees. We find that communication is a more effective tool than incentive changes for leading organizations out of performance traps. Examining the content of managers' communication, the most effective messages specifically request a high effort, point out the mutual benefits of high effort, and imply that employees are being paid well.

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Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 643.05.

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Length: 46
Date of creation: 18 Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:643.05

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Keywords: Change; Incentives; Coordination; Communication; Experiments; Organizations;

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References

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  1. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 3185, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 477-509, June.
  3. Knez, Marc & Camerer, Colin, 2000. "Increasing Cooperation in Prisoner's Dilemmas by Establishing a Precedent of Efficiency in Coordination Games," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 194-216, July.
  4. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2006. "A Change Would Do You Good .... An Experimental Study on How to Overcome Coordination Failure in Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 669-693, June.
  5. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
  6. Crawford, Vincent, 1998. "A Survey of Experiments on Communication via Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 286-298, February.
  7. C. Monica Capra & Tomomi Tanaka & Colin Camerer & Lauren Munyan & Veronica Sovero & Lisa Wang & Charles Noussair, 2005. "The Impact of Simple Institutions in Experimental Economies with Poverty Traps," Emory Economics, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta) 0508, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  8. Battalio, Raymond & Samuelson, Larry & Van Huyck, John, 2001. "Optimization Incentives and Coordination Failure in Laboratory Stag Hunt Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 69(3), pages 749-64, May.
  9. J. B. Van Huyck & R. C. Battalio & R. O. Beil, 2010. "Tacit coordination games, strategic uncertainty, and coordination failure," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000393, David K. Levine.
  10. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2004. "Observability and Overcoming Coordination Failure in Organizations," UFAE and IAE Working Papers, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) 630.04, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  11. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-75, August.
  12. Foss, Nicolai J, 2001. "Leadership, Beliefs and Coordination: An Explorative Discussion," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 357-88, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Ernst Fehr & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2004. "Money Illusion and Coordination Failure," CESifo Working Paper Series 1141, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. López-Pérez, Raúl, 2007. "Heterogeneous Focal Points, Fairness, and Coordination," Working Papers in Economic Theory 2007/14, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
  3. Al-Ubaydli, Omar, 2012. "Natural resources and the tradeoff between authoritarianism and development," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 137-152.

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