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Contracting With Synergies

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  • Alex Edmans
  • Itay Goldstein
  • John Y. Zhu

Abstract

This paper studies optimal contracting under synergies. We define influence as the extent to which effort by one agent reduces a colleague's marginal cost of effort, and synergy to be the sum of the (unidimensional) influence parameters across a pair of agents. In a two-agent model, effort levels are equal even if influence is asymmetric. The optimal effort level depends only on total synergy and not individual influence parameters. An increase in synergy raises total effort and total pay, consistent with strong equity incentives in small firms, including among low-level employees. The influence parameters matter only for individual pay. Pay is asymmetric, with the more influential agent being paid more, even though the level and productivity of effort are both symmetric. With three agents, effort levels differ and are higher for more synergistic agents. An increase in the synergy between two agents can lead to the third agent being excluded from the team, even if his productivity is unchanged. This has implications for optimal team composition and firm boundaries. Agents that influence a greater number of colleagues receive higher wages, consistent with the salary differential between CEOs and divisional managers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17606.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17606

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  1. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why Has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100, 02.
  2. József Sákovics & Jakub Steiner, 2012. "Who Matters in Coordination Problems?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3439-61, December.
  3. Simon Gervais & Itay Goldstein, 2007. "The Positive Effects of Biased Self-Perceptions in Firms," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 11(3), pages 453-496.
  4. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:2:p:376-390 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Eyal Winter, 2006. "Optimal incentives for sequential production processes," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(2), pages 376-390, 06.
  6. Nittai K. Bergman & Dirk Jenter, 2005. "Employee Sentiment and Stock Option Compensation," NBER Working Papers 11409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
  8. Wouter Dessein & Luis Garicano & Robert Gertner, 2010. "Organizing for Synergies," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 77-114, November.
  9. Marko Tervio, 2008. "The Difference That CEOs Make: An Assignment Model Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 642-68, June.
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