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Mixed Up? That's Good for Motivation

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  • Koch, Alexander K.

    ()
    (Aarhus University)

  • Peyrache, Eloic

    ()
    (HEC Paris)

Abstract

An essential ingredient in models of career concerns is ex ante uncertainty about an agent's type. This paper shows how career concerns can arise even in the absence of any such ex ante uncertainty, if the unobservable actions that an agent takes influence his future productivity. By implementing effort in mixed strategies the principal can endogenously induce uncertainty about the agent's ex post productivity and generate reputational incentives. Our main result is that creating such ambiguity can be optimal for the principal, even though this exposes the agent to additional risk and reduces output. This finding demonstrates the importance of mixed strategies in contracting environments with imperfect commitment, which contrasts with standard agency models where implementing mixed strategy actions typically is not optimal if pure strategies are also implementable.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1331.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in : Economic Theory , 2008, 34 (1), 107-125
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1331

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Keywords: mixed strategies; incentive contracts; reputation;

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References

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  1. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  2. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1998. "Incomplete Contracts and Strategic Ambiguity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 902-32, September.
  3. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
  4. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The economics of career concerns: part 1 :comparing information structures," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9617, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Bester, Helmut & Strausz, Roland, 2001. "Contracting with Imperfect Commitment and the Revelation Principle: The Single Agent Case," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1077-98, July.
  6. Meyer, Margaret A & Vickers, John, 1997. "Performance Comparisons and Dynamic Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 547-81, June.
  7. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1988. "Moral Hazard and Renegotiation in Agency Contracts," Working papers 494, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Fahad Khalil, 1997. "Auditing Without Commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 629-640, Winter.
  9. John Fingleton, 2005. "Career Concerns of Bargainers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 179-204, April.
  10. Shin Hyun Song, 1994. "The Burden of Proof in a Game of Persuasion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 253-264, October.
  11. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-75, September.
  12. Cremer, Jacques, 1995. "Arm's Length Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 275-95, May.
  13. Emmanuelle Auriol & Guido Friebel & Lambros Pechlivanos, 2002. "Career Concerns in Teams," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 289-307, Part.
  14. Koessler, Frederic, 2004. "Strategic knowledge sharing in Bayesian games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 292-320, August.
  15. Borland, Jeff, 1992. " Career Concerns: Incentives and Endogenous Learning in Labour Markets," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 251-70.
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Cited by:
  1. Alexander K. Koch & Eloïc Peyrache, 2008. "Aligning Ambition and Incentives," Economics Working Papers 2008-16, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.

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