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Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Keep their Word

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  • Ingela Alger

    ()
    (Boston College)

  • Regis Renault

    ()
    (GEMMA, Université de Caen)

Abstract

We study the implications of honesty when it requires pre-commitment. Within a two-period hidden information problem, an agent learns his match with the assigned task in period 2 and, if honest, reveals it to the principal if he has committed to it. The principal may offer a menu of contracts to screen ethics. Both honest and dishonest agents are willing to misrepresent their ethics. The principal and dishonest agents benefit from an increased likelihood of honesty as long as honesty is likely enough. Honest agents always profit from ethics uncertainty if a good match is likely. This is also true if dishonesty is likely enough, in which case an honest receives the same surplus as a dishonest.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 562.

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Date of creation: 15 Jun 2003
Date of revision: 09 Nov 2004
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:562

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Keywords: ethics; honesty; loyalty; adverse selection; screening;

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References

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  1. Deneckere,R. & Severinov,S., 2001. "Mechanism design and communication costs," Working papers 23, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  2. Forges, Françoise & Koessler, Frédéric, 2005. "Communication equilibria with partially verifiable types," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/168, Paris Dauphine University.
  3. Kofman, Fred & Lawarree, Jacques, 1996. "On the optimality of allowing collusion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 383-407, September.
  4. Green, Jerry R & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1986. "Partially Verifiable Information and Mechanism Design," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 447-56, July.
  5. Ingela Alger & Regis Renault, 2000. "Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Care about Fairness," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 489, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 09 Nov 2004.
  6. Ingela Alger & Ching-to Albert Ma, 2001. "Moral Hazard, Insurance, and Some Collusion," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 496, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Daniel S. Nagin & James B. Rebitzer & Seth Sanders & Lowell J. Taylor, 2002. "Monitoring, Motivation, and Management: The Determinants of Opportunistic Behavior in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 850-873, September.
  8. Picard, Pierre, 1996. "Auditing claims in the insurance market with fraud: The credibility issue," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 27-56, December.
  9. Jaffee, Dwight M & Russell, Thomas, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-66, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Schmitz, Patrick W., 2007. "Optimal selling strategies when buyers may have hard information," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 859-870, May.
  2. Fali Huang & Peter Cappelli, 2007. "Employee Screening : Theory and Evidence," Labor Economics Working Papers 22446, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  3. Conley, John P. & Neilson, William, 2009. "Endogenous games and equilibrium adoption of social norms and ethical constraints," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 761-774, July.
  4. Renault, Régis & Ma, Ching-to Albert & Alger, Ingela, 2012. "Experience Benefits and Firm Organization," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/12408, Paris Dauphine University.
  5. Saran, Rene, 2011. "Bilateral trading with naive traders," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 544-557, June.
  6. Santiago Sanchez-Pages & Marc Vorsatz, 2007. "Enjoy the Silence: An Experiment on Truth-Telling," ESE Discussion Papers 155, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  7. Ting Liu, 2006. "Credence Goods Markets with Conscientious and Selfish Experts," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-058, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  8. Stefano Demichelis & Jorgen W. Weibull, 2008. "Language, Meaning, and Games: A Model of Communication, Coordination, and Evolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1292-1311, September.
  9. Demichelis, Stefano & Weibull, Jörgen, 2006. "Efficiency, communication and honesty," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 645, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 28 Nov 2006.
  10. Ingela Alger & Regis Renault, 2000. "Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Care about Fairness," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 489, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 09 Nov 2004.

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