IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective

  • Holmstrom, Bengt

This paper studies how a person's concern for a future career may influence his or her incentives to put in effort or make decisions on the job. In the model, the person's productive abilities are revealed over time through observations of performance. There are no explicit output-contingent contracts, but since the wage in each period is based on expected output and expected output depends on assessed ability, an 'implicit contract' links today's performance to future wages. An incentive problem arises from the person's ability and desire to influence the learning process, and therefore the wage process, by taking unobserved actions that affect today's performance. The fundamental incongruity in preferences is between the individual's concern for human capital returns and the firm's concern for financial returns. The two need be only weakly related. It is shown that career motives can be beneficial as well as detrimental, depending on how well the two kinds of capital returns are aligned. Copyright 1999 by The Review of Economic Studies Limited.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to JSTOR subscribers. See for details.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 66 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 169-82

in new window

Handle: RePEc:bla:restud:v:66:y:1999:i:1:p:169-82
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Harris, Milton & Holstrom, Bengt, 1982. "A Theory of Wage Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 315-33, July.
  2. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
  3. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1986. "A "Signal-Jamming" Theory of Predation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 366-376, Autumn.
  4. Bengt Holmstrom, 1997. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1205, David K. Levine.
  5. James A. Mirrlees, 1976. "The Optimal Structure of Incentives and Authority Within an Organization," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(1), pages 105-131, Spring.
  6. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  7. Sherwin Rosen, 1982. "Authority, Control, and the Distribution of Earnings," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 311-323, Autumn.
  8. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1990. "Optimal Incentive Contracts In The Presence Of Career Concerns: Theory And Evidence," Working papers 563, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Scharfstein, David. & Stein, Jeremy C., 1988. "Herd behavior and investment," Working papers WP 2062-88., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  10. Bengt Holmstrom & I. Ricard & Joan Costa, 1984. "Managerial Incentives and Capital Management," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 729, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  11. Jeon, Seonghoon, 1996. "Moral hazard and reputational concerns in teams: Implications for organizational choice," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 297-315, May.
  12. Ross, Stephen A, 1973. "The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal's Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 134-39, May.
  13. Medoff, James L & Abraham, Katharine G, 1980. "Experience, Performance, and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 703-36, December.
  14. Meyer, Margaret A & Vickers, John, 1995. "Performance Comparisons and Dynamic Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 1107, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
  16. Borland, Jeff, 1992. " Career Concerns: Incentives and Endogenous Learning in Labour Markets," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 251-70.
  17. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1979. "Optimal incentive contracts with imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 231-259, April.
  18. Stein, Jeremy C, 1989. "Efficient Capital Markets, Inefficient Firms: A Model of Myopic Corporate Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 655-69, November.
  19. Radner, Roy, 1981. "Monitoring Cooperative Agreements in a Repeated Principal-Agent Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(5), pages 1127-48, September.
  20. Steven Shavell, 1979. "Risk Sharing and Incentives in the Principal and Agent Relationship," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 55-73, Spring.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:restud:v:66:y:1999:i:1:p:169-82. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.