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Performance Pay and Productivity

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  • Edward P. Lazear

Abstract

Much of the theory in personnel economics relates to effects of monetary incentives on output, but the theory was untested because appropriate data were unavailable. A new data set for the Safelite Glass Corporation tests the predictions that average productivity will rise, the firm will attract a more able workforce, and variance in output across individuals at the firm will rise when it shifts to piece rates. In Safelite, productivity effects amount to a 44-percent increase in output per worker. This firm apparently had selected a suboptimal compensation system, as profits also increased with the change.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:90:y:2000:i:5:p:1346-1361
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.90.5.1346
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Goldin, Claudia, 1986. "Monitoring Costs and Occupational Segregation by Sex: A Historical Analysis," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-27, January.
    3. Charles Brown, 1992. "Wage Levels and Method of Pay," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(3), pages 366-375, Autumn.
    4. Charles Brown, 1990. "Firms' Choice of Method of Pay," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 165-1-182-, April.
    5. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-817, August.
    6. Fama, Eugene F, 1991. "Time, Salary, and Incentive Payoffs in Labor Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 25-44, January.
    7. Baker, George P, 1992. "Incentive Contracts and Performance Measurement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 598-614, June.
    8. Seiler, Eric, 1984. "Piece Rate vs. Time Rate: The Effect of Incentives on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(3), pages 363-376, August.
    9. Harry J. Paarsch & Bruce S. Shearer, 1997. "Fixed Wages, Piece Rates, and Intertemporal Productivity: A Study of Tree Planters in British Columbia," CIRANO Working Papers 97s-01, CIRANO.
    10. Robert Drago & John S. Heywood, 1994. "The Choice of Payment Schemes: Australian Establishment Data," Labor and Demography 9402001, EconWPA, revised 04 Feb 1994.
    11. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-431, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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