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Efficient Contracting and Fair Play in a Simple Principal-Agent Experiment

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  • Vital Anderhub
  • Simon Gaechter
  • Manfred Koenigstein

Abstract

We study behavior within a simple principal--agent experiment. Our design allows for a large class of linear contracts. Principals can offer any feasible combination of (negative) fixed wages and incentives in the form of return sharing. This great contractual flexibility allows us to study incentive compatibility simultaneously with issues of `fair sharing' and reciprocity, which were previously found to be important. We find a high degree of incentive-compatible behavior, but also `fair sharing' and reciprocity. In contrast to other incentive devices studied in the literature, the incentives are `reciprocity-compatible'. Principals recognize the agency problem and react accordingly.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 018.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:018

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Keywords: Principal-agent theory; contract theory; fair sharing; incentive contracts; reciprocity; experiments;

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  1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
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  16. Selten, Reinhard & Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Klaus Abbink, 1995. "Money does Not Induce Risk Neutral Behavior, but Binary Lotteries Do even Worse," Discussion Paper Serie B 343, University of Bonn, Germany.
  17. Werner Güth & Manfred Königstein & Judit Kovács & Enikõ Zala-Mezõ, 2001. "Fairness Within Firms: The Case Of One Principal And Multiple Agents," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 53(2), pages 82-101, April.
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  21. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000143, David K. Levine.
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