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Implicit vs. Explicit Incentives: Theory and a Case Study

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  • Dominique Demougin
  • Oliver Fabel
  • Christian Thomann

Abstract

We derive the optimal contract between a principal and a liquidity-constrained agent in a stochastically repeated environment. The contract comprises a court-enforceable explicit bonus rule and an implicit fixed salary promise that must be self-enforcing. Since the agent’s rent increases with bonus pay, the principal implements the maximum credible salary promise. Thus, the bonus increases while the salary promise and the agent’s effort decrease with a higher probability of premature contract termination. We subject this mechanism to econometric testing using personnel data of an insurance company. The empirical results strongly support our theoretical predictions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2645.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2645

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Related research

Keywords: implicit contract; explicit bonus pay; premature contract termination; compensation and productivity estimates;

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References

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  1. Sliwka, Dirk, 2006. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," IZA Discussion Papers 2293, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Rayton, Bruce A., 2003. "The residual claim of rank and file employees," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 129-148, January.
  3. Edward P. Lazear, 1996. "Performance Pay and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jonathan Levin, 2000. "Relational Incentive Contracts," Working Papers 01002, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  5. I. Theodossiou & M.J. White, 1998. "Does tenure affect earnings?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 25(4), pages 328-343, September.
  6. R. Lynn Hannan & John H. Kagel & Donald V. Moser, 2002. "Partial Gift Exchange in an Experimental Labor Market: Impact of Subject Population Differences, Productivity Differences, and Effort Requests on Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 923-951, October.
  7. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  8. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1993. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," NBER Working Papers 4480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2007. "Personnel Economics," NBER Working Papers 13480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
  11. Rachel M. Hayes & Scott Schaefer, 2000. "Implicit Contracts and the Explanatory Power of Top Executive Compensation for Future Performance," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 273-293, Summer.
  12. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1994. "A Test for Moral Hazard in the Labor Market: Contractual Arrangements, Effort, and Health," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 213-27, May.
  13. Pearce, David G. & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1998. "The Interaction of Implicit and Explicit Contracts in Repeated Agency," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 75-96, April.
  14. Canice Prendergast, 2000. "What Trade-Off of Risk and Incentives?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 421-425, May.
  15. Robert Eisner & Robert H. Strotz, 1961. "Flight Insurance and the Theory of Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 355.
  16. J. David Cummins & Neil A. Doherty, 2006. "The Economics of Insurance Intermediaries," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 73(3), pages 359-396.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Funke & Marc Gronwald, 2009. "A Convex Hull Approach to Counterfactual Analysis of Trade Openness and Growth," Quantitative Macroeconomics Working Papers 20906, Hamburg University, Department of Economics.
  2. Jörg Budde & Matthias Kräkel, 2011. "Limited liability and the risk–incentive relationship," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 102(2), pages 97-110, March.

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