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Agency and Anxiety

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  • Michael T. Rauh

    (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)

  • Giulio Seccia

    (Department of Economics, University of Southampton)

Abstract

In this paper, we introduce the psychological concept of anxiety into agency theory. An important benchmark in the anxiety literature is the inverted-U hypothesis which states that an increase in anxiety improves performance when anxiety is low but reduces it when anxiety is high. We consider a version of the Holmstrom-Milgrom linear principal-agent model where the agent conforms to the inverted-U hypothesis and investigate the nature of the optimal linear contract. We find that although high-powered incentives can be demotivational, a profit-maximizing principal never offers them. In contrast, the principal may optimally engage in a demotivational level of monitoring. Moreover, since risk can be motivational, the principal may refrain from eliminating it even when monitoring is costless. Indeed, the principal may even add pure noise to the contract in order to motivate the agent, contradicting the informativeness principle. Finally, incentives and monitoring can be strategic substitutes or complements in our model.

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Paper provided by Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy in its series Working Papers with number 2006-02.

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Date of creation: Sep 2006
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Handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2006-02

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  1. Michael T. Rauh & Giulio Seccia, 2005. "Anxiety and Performance: An Endogenous Learning-by-doing Model," Working Papers 2005-01, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  2. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  3. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  4. Baker, G.P. & Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Compensation And Incentives: Practice Vs. Theory," Papers 88-05, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  5. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  6. Dan Ariely & Uri Gneezy & George Loewenstein & Nina Mazar, 2005. "Large stakes and big mistakes," Working Papers 05-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  7. Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-84, September.
  8. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  9. Gneezy, U. & Rustichini, A., 1998. "Pay Enough - Or Don't Pay at All," Discussion Paper 1998-57, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  10. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  11. Vives, Xavier, 1990. "Nash equilibrium with strategic complementarities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 305-321.
  12. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  13. Barkema, Harry G, 1995. "Do Top Managers Work Harder When They Are Monitored?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 19-42.
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