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Motivation and Markets

  • MacLeod, W Bentley
  • Malcomson, James M

Many workers receive pay based on subjectively assessed performance, yet the shirking model of efficiency wages excludes it. This paper incorporates such pay, with the following results. Performance pay is more efficient than efficiency wages when the costs of having a job vacant are low and qualified workers in short supply. More capital-intensive industries pay more than less capital-intensive industries, as observed in studies of interindustry wages differentials. Sustaining an efficient outcome requires a social convention similar to the notion of a fair wage. The model also makes predictions about the relationship between turnover, wages, growth, and unemployment. Copyright 1998 by American Economic Association.

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

Volume (Year): 88 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 388-411

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:88:y:1998:i:3:p:388-411
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  1. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en ├ęconomie quantitative, CIREQ.
  2. Jeremy I. Bulow & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy, Discrimination and Keynesian Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 1666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  4. Moene, Karl Ove, 1988. "A reformulation of the Harris-Todaro mechanism with endogenous wages," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 387-390.
  5. Raff, Daniel M.G., 1988. "Wage Determination Theory and the Five-Dollar Day at Ford," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(02), pages 387-399, June.
  6. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  7. Charles Brown, 1990. "Firms' Choice of Method of Pay," NBER Working Papers 3065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000143, David K. Levine.
  9. Carmichael, Lorne, 1985. "Can Unemployment Be Involuntary? Comment [Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device]," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1213-14, December.
  10. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
  11. Abreu, Dilip, 1988. "On the Theory of Infinitely Repeated Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 383-96, March.
  12. W. Bentley MacLeod, 1997. "Complexity, Contract and the Employment Relationship," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 342., Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-75, August.
  14. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-42, March.
  15. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  16. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Interindustry Wage Differences and Industry Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 2014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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