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The Lure of Authority: Motivation and Incentive Effects of Power

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  • Ernst Fehr
  • Holger Herz
  • Tom Wilkening

Abstract

Authority and power permeate political, social, and economic life, but empirical knowledge about the motivational origins and consequences of authority is limited. We study the motivation and incentive effects of authority experimentally in an authority-delegation game. Individuals often retain authority even when its delegation is in their material interest - suggesting that authority has non-pecuniary consequences for utility. Authority also leads to over-provision of effort by the controlling parties, while a large percentage of subordinates under-provide effort despite pecuniary incentives to the contrary. Authority thus has important motivational consequences that exacerbate the inefficiencies arising from suboptimal delegation choices.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2012/wp-cesifo-2012-12/cesifo1_wp4021.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4021.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4021

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Keywords: organizational behavior; incentives; experiments and contracts;

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  1. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "THE HIDDEN COSTS AND RETURNS OF INCENTIVES — TRUST AND TRUSTWORTHINESS AMONG CEOs," Labor and Demography 0409012, EconWPA.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Björn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & Holger Herz, 2013. "The intrinsic value of decision rights," ECON - Working Papers 120, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Owens, David & Grossman , Zachary & Fackler , Ryan, 2012. "The Control Premium: A Preference for Payoff Autonomy," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt5bg845s1, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. Danz, David & Hüber, Frank & Kübler, Dorothea & Mechtenberg, Lydia & Schmid, Julia, 2013. "'I'll do it by myself as I knew it all along': On the failure of hindsight-biased principals to delegate optimally," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2013-203, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  4. Audretsch, David B. & Leyden, Dennis P. & Link, Albert N., 2012. "Universities as Research Partners in Publicly Supported Entrepreneurial Firms," Working Papers 12-2, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
  5. Charness, Gary & Cobo-Reyes, Ramon & Lacomba, Juan A & Lagos, Francisco & Perez, Jose M, 2013. "Social comparisons in wage delegation: Experimental evidence," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8j55h1xj, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  6. F. Landini, 2012. "The Evolution of Control in the Digital Economy," Economics Department Working Papers 2012-EP03, Department of Economics, Parma University (Italy).
  7. Jürgen Fleiß & Stefan Palan, 2013. "Of Coordinators and Dictators: A Public Goods Experiment," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(4), pages 584-607, October.
  8. Daniela Grieco & Marco Faillo & Luca Zarri, 2013. "Top Contributors as Punishers," Working Papers 24/2013, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
  9. Lai, Ernest K. & Lim, Wooyoung, 2012. "Authority and communication in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 541-560.
  10. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán-González, 2011. "Don't Ask Me If You Will Not Listen: The Dilemma of Participative Decision Making," Working Papers 11-04, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  11. Avner Ben-Ner & Matthew Ellman, 2013. "The contributions of behavioural economics to understanding and advancing the sustainability of worker cooperatives," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 2(1), pages 75-100, August.

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