Subjective Performance Indicators and Discretionary Bonus Pools
Key indicators of managerial performance are frequently subjective, that is, they are difficult to specify and/or verify for contracting purposes. When a principal must rely on subjective information to create incentives for a group of agents, discretionary bonus pools are shown to be optimal mechanisms. Despite their optimality, however, discretionary bonus pools entail an additional agency cost relative to the benchmark of optimal contracts based on objective and verifiable information. Our analysis identifies circumstances under which this additional agency cost is small, for example, the subjective information signals are precise, or the number of agents participating in the bonus pool increases. When incentive schemes can be based on both objective and subjective performance indicators, the relative weights to be placed on alternative signals are shown to differ from the ones predicted by models with objective signals only. We also demonstrate that correlation in measurement errors has a different impact on the structure of optimal incentive schemes when the performance indicators are merely subjective. Copyright University of Chicago on behalf of the Institute of Professional Accounting, 2006.
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Volume (Year): 44 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (06)
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