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The intrinsic value of decision rights

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Author Info

  • Björn Bartling
  • Ernst Fehr
  • Holger Herz

Abstract

Philosophers, psychologists, and economists have long argued that certain decision rights carry not only instrumental value but may also be valuable for their own sake. The ideas of autonomy, freedom, and liberty derive their intuitive appeal – at least partly – from an assumed positive intrinsic value of decision rights. Proving the existence of this value and measuring its size, however, is intricate. Here, we develop an experimental method capable of achieving these goals. The data reveal that – across different parameterizations – the large majority of our subjects intrinsically value decision rights beyond their instrumental benefit. The existence of an intrinsic value of decision rights helps understand the allocation of decision rights in practice, and it has implications for their optimal allocation in organizations, economic institutions, and society at large.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 120.

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Date of creation: Apr 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:120

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Keywords: Decision rights; intrinsic value; authority;

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  1. Ernst Fehr & Holger Herz & Tom Wilkening, 2012. "The lure of authority: Motivation and incentive effects of power," ECON - Working Papers 099, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2003. "Beyond Incentive Pay: Insiders' Estimates of the Value of Complementary Human Resource Management Practices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 155-180, Winter.
  3. Owens, David & Grossman , Zachary & Fackler , Ryan, 2012. "The Control Premium: A Preference for Payoff Autonomy," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt5bg845s1, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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  5. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  6. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
  7. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  8. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  9. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  10. Scott Stern, 2004. "Do Scientists Pay to Be Scientists?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(6), pages 835-853, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Colombo, Massimo G. & Mohammadi, Ali & Lamastra, Cristina Rossi, 2014. "Innovative business models for high-tech entrepreneurial ventures: the organizational design challenges," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 366, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
  2. Daniela Grieco & Marco Faillo & Luca Zarri, 2013. "Top Contributors as Punishers," Working Papers 24/2013, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
  3. Randolph Sloof & Ferdinand von Siemens, 2014. "Illusion of Control and the Pursuit of Authority," CESifo Working Paper Series 4764, CESifo Group Munich.

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