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Incentivizing Calculated Risk-Taking: Evidence from an Experiment with Commercial Bank Loan Officers

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  • Shawn Cole

    ()
    (Harvard Business School, Finance Unit)

  • Martin Kanz

    ()
    (World Bank)

  • Leora Klapper

    ()
    (World Bank)

Abstract

This paper uses a series of experiments with commercial bank loan officers to test the effect of performance incentives on risk-assessment and lending decisions. We first show that, while high-powered incentives lead to greater screening effort and more profitable lending, their power is muted by both deferred compensation and the limited liability typically enjoyed by credit officers. Second, we present direct evidence that incentive contracts distort judgment and beliefs, even among trained professionals with many years of experience. Loans evaluated under more permissive incentive schemes are rated significantly less risky than the same loans evaluated under pay-for-performance.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 13-002.

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Length: 69 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:13-002

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Keywords: loan officer incentives; banking; emerging markets;

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References

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  1. Shawn A. Cole, 2007. "Financial Development, Bank Ownership, and Growth. Or, Does Quantity Imply Quality?," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-002, Harvard Business School.
  2. Alex Edmans & Qi Liu, 2011. "Inside Debt," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(1), pages 75-102.
  3. Florian Heider & Roman Inderst, 2012. "Loan Prospecting," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(8), pages 2381-2415.
  4. Baker, George P & Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1988. " Compensation and Incentives: Practice vs. Theory," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 593-616, July.
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  6. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  7. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2007. "Incentives for Managers and Inequality Among Workers: Evidence From a Firm-Level Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 729-773, 05.
  8. Allen N. Berger & Gregory F. Udell, 2003. "The institutional memory hypothesis and the procyclicality of bank lending behavior," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-02, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Andrew Hertzberg & Jose Maria Liberti & Daniel Paravisini, 2010. "Information and Incentives Inside the Firm: Evidence from Loan Officer Rotation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(3), pages 795-828, 06.
  10. Allen N. Berger & Leora F. Klapper & Gegory F. Udell, 2001. "The ability of banks to lend to informationally opaque small businesses," Proceedings 709, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  11. Jose Maria Liberti, 2004. "Initiative, Incentives and Soft Information. How Does Delegation Impact The Role of Bank Relationship Managers?," Finance 0404023, EconWPA.
  12. Guy Mayraz, 2011. "Wishful Thinking," CEP Discussion Papers dp1092, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  14. Dell''Ariccia, Giovanni & Marquez, Robert, 2005. "Lending Booms and Lending Standards," CEPR Discussion Papers 5095, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
  16. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  17. Glenn Harrison & John List & Charles Towe, 2004. "Naturally occurring preferences and exogenous laboratory experiments: A case study of risk aversion," Framed Field Experiments 00155, The Field Experiments Website.
  18. Sumit Agarwal & Itzhak Ben-David, 2014. "Do Loan Officers’ Incentives Lead to Lax Lending Standards?," NBER Working Papers 19945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Dell''Ariccia, Giovanni & Igan, Deniz & Laeven, Luc, 2008. "Credit Booms and Lending Standards: Evidence From The Subprime Mortgage Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 6683, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362, February.
  21. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Innovative firms or innovative owners ? determinants of innovation in micro, small, and medium enterprises," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4934, The World Bank.
  22. Patrick Bolton & Hamid Mehran & Joel Shapiro, 2010. "Executive compensation and risk taking," Staff Reports 456, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  23. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
  24. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Bonuses and risk taking: Some experimental evidence to bolster commonsense
    by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2012-07-15 04:36:00
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Cited by:
  1. Sumit Agarwal & Itzhak Ben-David, 2014. "Do Loan Officers’ Incentives Lead to Lax Lending Standards?," NBER Working Papers 19945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ing-Haw Cheng & Sahil Raina & Wei Xiong, 2013. "Wall Street and the Housing Bubble," NBER Working Papers 18904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Beck, T.H.L. & Behr, P. & Madestam, A., 2012. "Sex and Credit: Is there a Gender Bias in Lending?," Discussion Paper 2012-062, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Tobias Berg & Manju Puri & Jorg Rocholl, 2013. "Loan officer Incentives and the Limits of Hard Information," NBER Working Papers 19051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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