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Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory

  • Tore Ellingsen
  • Magnus Johannesson

Desire for social esteem is a source of prosocial behavior. We develop a model in which actors' utility of esteem depends on the audience. In a principal agent setting, we show that the model can account for motivational crowding out. Control systems and pecuniary incentives erode morale by signaling to the agent that the principal is not worth impressing. The model also offers an explanation for why agents are motivated by unconditionally high pay and by mission-oriented principals.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.98.3.990
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 98 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 990-1008

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:3:p:990-1008
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.3.990
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