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Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting: Productivity, Preferences, and Gender

Listed author(s):
  • Thomas Dohmen
  • Armin Falk

This paper studies the impact of incentives on worker self-selection in a controlled laboratory experiment. Subjects face the choice between a fixed and a variable payment scheme. Depending on the treatment, the variable payment is a piece rate, a tournament, or a revenue-sharing scheme. We find that output is higher in the variable-payment schemes compared to the fixed-payment scheme. This difference is largely driven by productivity sorting. In addition, different incentive schemes systematically attract individuals with different attitudes, such as willingness to take risks and relative self-assessment as well as gender, which underlines the importance of multidimensional sorting. (JEL C91, D81, D82, J16, J31)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.2.556
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 556-590

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:2:p:556-90
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  1. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
  2. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1998. "Motivation and Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 388-411, June.
  3. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-1324, December.
  4. Fahr, Rene & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2000. "Fairness as a constraint on trust in reciprocity: earned property rights in a reciprocal exchange experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 275-282, March.
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  6. Bonin, Holger & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Cross-sectional earnings risk and occupational sorting: The role of risk attitudes," Munich Reprints in Economics 20204, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  7. Charles Brown, 1992. "Wage Levels and Method of Pay," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(3), pages 366-375, Autumn.
  8. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-1175, September.
  9. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 1730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Armin Falk & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," CESifo Working Paper Series 2894, CESifo Group Munich.
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  16. Grund, Christian & Sliwka, Dirk, 2002. "Envy and Compassion in Tournaments," IZA Discussion Papers 647, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. repec:sae:ilrrev:v:43:y:1990:i:3:p:165-182 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  19. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
  20. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
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  22. Bohnet, Iris & Kubler, Dorothea, 2005. "Compensating the cooperators: is sorting in the prisoner's dilemma possible?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-76, January.
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  28. Orana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
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  30. Charles Brown, 1989. "Firms' Choice of Method of Pay," NBER Working Papers 3065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
  32. Joanne Salop & Steven Salop, 1976. "Self-Selection and Turnover in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 619-627.
  33. Baron, David P. & Besanko, David, 1984. "Regulation and information in a continuing relationship," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 267-302.
  34. Joanne Salop & Steven C. Salop, 1976. "Self-selection and turnover in the labor market," Special Studies Papers 80, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  35. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
  36. Dan Lovallo & Colin Camerer, 1999. "Overconfidence and Excess Entry: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 306-318, March.
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