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Incentivizing Calculated Risk-Taking: Evidence from an Experiment with Commercial Bank Loan Officers

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  • SHAWN COLE
  • MARTIN KANZ
  • LEORA KLAPPER

Abstract

type="main"> We conduct an experiment with commercial bank loan officers to test how performance compensation affects risk assessment and lending. High-powered incentives lead to greater screening effort and more profitable lending decisions. This effect is muted, however, by deferred compensation and limited liability, two standard features of loan officer compensation contracts. We find that career concerns and personality traits affect loan officer behavior, but show that the response to incentives does not vary with traits such as risk-aversion, optimism, or overconfidence. Finally, we present evidence that incentives distort the assessment of credit risk, even among professionals with many years of experience.

Suggested Citation

  • Shawn Cole & Martin Kanz & Leora Klapper, 2015. "Incentivizing Calculated Risk-Taking: Evidence from an Experiment with Commercial Bank Loan Officers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(2), pages 537-575, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:70:y:2015:i:2:p:537-575
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior

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