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Competition and the Ratchet Effect

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  • Gary Charness
  • Peter Kuhn
  • Marie-Claire Villeval

Abstract

In labor markets, the ratchet effect refers to a situation where workers subject to performance pay choose to restrict their output, because they rationally anticipate that firms will respond to higher output levels by raising output requirements or cutting pay. We model this effect as a multi-period principal-agent problem with hidden information, and study its robustness to labor market competition both theoretically and experimentally. Consistent with our theoretical model, we observe substantial ratchet effects in the absence of competition, which is nearly eliminated when competition is introduced; this is true regardless of whether market conditions favor firms or workers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16325.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Publication status: published as Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn & Marie Claire Villeval, 2011. "Competition and the Ratchet Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 513 - 547.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16325

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  1. Roland, Gerard & Sekkat, Khalid, 2000. "Managerial career concerns, privatization and restructuring in transition economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(10), pages 1857-1872, December.
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  4. 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.
  5. Cabrales, Antonio & Charness, Gary & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2006. "Competition, Hidden Information and Efficiency: An Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2296, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Dillen, M. & Lundholm, M., 1992. "Dynamic Income Taxation, Redistribution, and the Ratchet Effect," Papers 1992-3, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Jay Pil Choi & Marcel Thum, 2000. "The Dynamics of Corruption with the Ratchet Effect," CESifo Working Paper Series 334, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Ananish Chaudhuri, 1997. "The Ratchet Principle in a Principal Agent Game with Unknown Costs: An Experimental Analysis," Departmental Working Papers 199608, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  11. S. Bucovetsky, 2003. "Efficient Migration and Income Tax Competition," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 249-278, 04.
  12. Lemieux, Thomas & MacLeod, W. Bentley & Parent, Daniel, 2007. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2850, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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. Antonio Cabrales & Gary Charness & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2011. "Hidden Information, Bargaining Power, And Efficiency: An Experiment," Post-Print halshs-00614472, HAL.
  2. 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.
  3. 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".
  4. Socha, Karolina, 2014. "Mixed reimbursement of hospitals: Securing high activity and global expenditures control?," COHERE Working Paper 2014:3, COHERE - Centre of Health Economics Research, University of Southern Denmark.
  5. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Non, Arjan & Verbeke, Willem, 2013. "Dynamic Incentive Effects of Relative Performance Pay: A Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7652, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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