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Task assignments and incentives: generalists versus specialists

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  • Suraj Prasad

Abstract

I develop an agency model of job assignments where jobs differ based on the breadth of tasks. A tradeoff between task complementarities and relative abilities of workers results in those with balanced skills being assigned to multitask jobs. The same tradeoff between complementarities and relative abilities also influences incentives to sort privately informed workers to jobs. I then draw on a variety of sources (survey data, case studies, and anecdotal evidence) to suggest that relative abilities and multitasking play an important role in managerial assignments of nonacademic research scientists. Copyright (c) 2009, RAND.

Suggested Citation

  • Suraj Prasad, 2009. "Task assignments and incentives: generalists versus specialists," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(2), pages 380-403.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:40:y:2009:i:2:p:380-403
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lex Borghans & Bas Ter Weel & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2014. "People Skills and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 67(2), pages 287-334, April.
    2. Yann Kossi & Jean-Yves Lesueur & Mareva Sabatier, 2016. "Publish or teach? The role of the scientific environment on academics’ multitasking," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 487-506.
    3. Delfgaauw, Josse & Souverijn, Michiel, 2016. "Biased supervision," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 107-125.
    4. Charlene M. Kalenkoski & Gigi Foster, 2015. "Measuring the relative productivity of multitasking to sole-tasking in household production: experimental evidence," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(18), pages 1847-1862, April.

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