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Screening, Competition, and Job Design: Economic Origins of Good Jobs

  • Bjorn Bartling
  • Ernst Fehr
  • Klaus M. Schmidt

High-performance work systems give workers more discretion, thereby increasing effort productivity but also shirking opportunities. We show experimentally that screening for work attitude and labor market competition are causal determinants of the viability of high-performance work systems, and we identify the complementarities between discretion, rent-sharing, and screening that render them profitable. Two fundamentally distinct job designs emerge endogenously in our experiments: "bad" jobs with low discretion, low wages, and little rent-sharing, and "good" jobs with high discretion, high wages, and substantial rent-sharing. Good jobs are profitable only if employees can be screened, and labor market competition fosters their dissemination. (JEL D12, D82, J24, J31, J41, M12, M54)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 834-64

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:2:p:834-64
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