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Optimal Incentive Contracts when Workers envy their Boss

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Author Info

  • Robert Dur

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)

  • Amihai Glazer

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of California, Irvine, California, USA)

Abstract

A worker's utility may increase with his income, but envy can make his utility decline with his employer's income. This article uses a principal-agent model to study profit-maximizing contracts when a worker envies his employer. Envy tightens the worker's participation constraint and so calls for higher pay and/or a softer effort requirement. Moreover, a firm with an envious worker can benefit from profit sharing, even when the worker's effort is fully contractible. We discuss several applications of our theoretical work: envy can explain why a lower-level worker is awarded stock options, why incentive pay is lower in nonprofit organizations, and how governmental production of a good can be cheaper than private production. This discussion paper has resulted in a publication in the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization . (2008, 24(1), 120-138.)

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 04-046/1.

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Date of creation: 26 Apr 2004
Date of revision: 13 Jun 2006
Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20040046

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Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

Related research

Keywords: Principal-agent; Envy; Compensation; Contracts; Profit-sharing; Stock options; Public vs. private production;

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References

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Michael Kremer & Atif Mian, 2003. "Incentives in Markets, Firms and Governments," NBER Working Papers 9802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2003. "Signaling and Screening of Workers' motivation," CESifo Working Paper Series 1099, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 2002. "Five Years after: The Impact of Mass Privatization on Wages in Russia, 1993-1998," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 160-190, March.
  4. Agell, J. & Lundborg, P., 1992. "Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Papers 1993-8, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  5. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2004. "Incentives and Workers' Motivation in the Public Sector," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-060/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Oyer, Paul & Schaefer, Scott, 2005. "Why do some firms give stock options to all employees?: An empirical examination of alternative theories," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 99-133, April.
  7. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
  8. Grund, Christian & Sliwka, Dirk, 2002. "Envy and Compassion in Tournaments," IZA Discussion Papers 647, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Englmaier, Florian & Wambach, Achim, 2005. "Optimal Incentive Contracts under Inequity Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 1643, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Pedro Rey Biel, 2004. "Inequity aversion and team incentives," Microeconomics 0407009, EconWPA.
  11. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1992. "Fair wages, involuntary unemployment and tax policies in the simple general equilibrium model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 299-320, April.
  12. Olmstead, Alan L & Rhode, Paul, 1985. "Rationing without Government: The West Coast Gas Famine of 1920," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1044-55, December.
  13. Haskel, Jonathan & Szymanski, Stefan, 1993. "Privatization, Liberalization, Wages and Employment: Theory and Evidence for the UK," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 60(238), pages 161-81, May.
  14. Bill Dupor & Wen-Fang Liu, 2003. "Jealousy and Equilibrium Overconsumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 423-428, March.
  15. Fershtman, Chaim & Hvide, Hans K & Weiss, Yoram, 2003. "Cultural Diversity, Status Concerns and the Organization of Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 3982, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Hideshi Itoh, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Other-Regarding Preferences," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 18-45.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Florian Englmaier & Stephen G. Leider, 2008. "Contractual and Organizational Structurewith Reciprocal Agents," CESifo Working Paper Series 2415, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Shchetinin, Oleg, 2010. "Altruism and Career Concerns," Working Papers in Economics 427, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  3. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán-González & Stephen Rassenti, 2011. "Real Effort, Real Leisure and Real-time Supervision: Incentives and Peer Pressure in Virtual Organizations," Working Papers 11-05, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.

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