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Adding a Stick to the Carrot? The Interaction of Bonuses and Fines

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  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Schmidt, Klaus M.

Abstract

In this paper we report on a principal-agent experiment where the principal can choose whether to rely on an unenforcable bonus contract or to combine the bonus contract with a fine if the agent’s effort falls below a minimum standard. We show that most principals do not use the fine and that the pure bonus contract is more efficient than the combined contract. Our experiment suggests that principals who are less fair are more likely to choose a combined contract and less likely to actually pay the announced bonus. This offers a new explanation for why explicit and implicit incentives are substitutes rather than complements.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 197.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:197

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Keywords: moral hazard; bonus contract; implicit incentives; fairness; incentives;

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References

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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2004. "Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-Task Principle-Agent Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 4464, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Benabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2005. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 1695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. E. Fehr & John A. List, . "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives - Trust and Trustworthiness among CEOs," IEW - Working Papers 134, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough Or Don'T Pay At All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810, August.
  5. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2007. "Fairness and contract design," Munich Reprints in Economics 20618, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  7. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
  8. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
  10. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
  11. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "A fine is a price," Natural Field Experiments 00258, The Field Experiments Website.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Herold, Florian, 2010. "Contractual incompleteness as a signal of trust," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 180-191, January.
  2. Sääksvuori, Lauri, 2013. "Voluntary formation of centralized sanctioning institutions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 150-159.
  3. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When Punishment Fails: Research on Sanctions, Intentions and Non- Cooperation," Experimental 0502001, EconWPA, revised 18 Feb 2005.
  4. Flynn, Sean Masaki & Donnelly, Michael, 2012. "Does labor contract completeness drive unionization? Experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 445-454.
  5. Hessel Oosterbeek & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2006. "Rent-seeking versus Productive Activities in a Multi-task Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-083/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Tetlock, Philip E. & Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Patil, Shefali V. & Grant, Adam M., 2013. "Accountability and ideology: When left looks right and right looks left," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 22-35.
  7. Cunyat, Antoni & Sloof, Randolph, 2011. "Employee types and endogenous organizational design: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 553-573.
  8. Golman, Russell & Bhatia, Sudeep, 2012. "Performance evaluation inflation and compression," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 534-543.
  9. Maria Bigoni & Giancarlo Spagnolo & Paola Valbonesi, 2010. "Sticks and Carrots in Procurement," CEIS Research Paper 157, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 28 May 2010.

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