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Competition and the Ratchet Effect

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Author Info

  • Gary Charness

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of California - University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Peter Kuhn

    (Department of Economics, University of California - University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines)

Abstract

The 'ratchet effect' refers to a situation where a principal uses private information that is revealed by an agent's early actions to the agent's later disadvantage, in a context where binding multi-period contracts are not enforceable. In a simple, context-rich environment, we experimentally study the robustness of the ratchet effect to the introduction of ex post competition for principals or agents. While we do observe substantial and significant ratchet effects in the baseline (no competition) case of our model, we find that ratchet behavior is nearly eliminated by labor-market competition ; interestingly this is true regardless of whether market conditions favor principals or agents.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00333590.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Publication status: Published, Journal of Labor Economics, 2011, 29, 3, pp. 513-547
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00333590

Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00333590
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Keywords: Ratchet effect; competition; experiment; private information; labor markets;

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  1. Dearden, James & Ickes, Barry W & Samuelson, Larry, 1990. "To Innovate or Not to Innovate: Incentives and Innovation in Hierarchies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1105-24, December.
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  3. Dillen, M. & Lundholm, M., 1992. "Dynamic Income Taxation, Redistribution, and the Ratchet Effect," Papers 1992-3, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  4. Choi, Jay Pil & Thum, Marcel, 2003. "The dynamics of corruption with the ratchet effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 427-443, March.
  5. Antonio Cabrales & Gary Charness & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2006. "Competition, hidden information, and efficiency : an experiment," Economics Working Papers we071909, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  6. Lemieux, Thomas & MacLeod, W. Bentley & Parent, Daniel, 2007. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2850, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Gérard Roland & Khalid Sekkat, 2000. "Managerial career concerns, privatization and restructuring in transition economies," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7340, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Kanemoto, Yoshitsugu & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1992. "The Ratchet Effect and the Market for Secondhand Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(1), pages 85-98, January.
  9. Dalen, Dag Morten, 1995. "Efficiency-improving investment and the ratchet effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1511-1522, October.
  10. Puller, Steven L., 2006. "The strategic use of innovation to influence regulatory standards," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 690-706, November.
  11. Peter Kuhn & Fernando Lozano, 2008. "The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours among U.S. Men, 1979-2006," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 311-343, 04.
  12. Freixas, Xavier & Guesnerie, Roger & Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Planning under Incomplete Information and the Ratchet Effect," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 173-91, April.
  13. Barry W. Ickes & Larry Samuelson, 1987. "Job Transfers and Incentives in Complex Organizations: Thwarting the Ratchet Effect," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 275-286, Summer.
  14. Allen, Douglas W. & Lueck, Dean, 1999. "Searching For Ratchet Effects In Agricultural Contracts," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(02), December.
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Cited by:
  1. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur & Arjan Non & Willem Verbeke, 2010. "Dynamic Incentive Effects of Relative Performance Pay: A Field Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-124/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 27 Sep 2011.
  2. Ottorino Chillemi & Benedetto Gui & Lorenzo Rocco, 2013. "The value of information disclosure under local learning. The case of fixed types," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0161, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  3. Jirjahn, Uwe & Heywood, John S., 2013. "Variable Pay, Industrial Relations and Foreign Ownership: Evidence from Germany," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79829, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  4. Gary Charness & Marie Claire Villeval & Antonio Cabrales, 2009. "Hidden Information, Bargaining Power and Efficiency: An Experiment," Working Papers 2009-08, FEDEA.

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