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Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal-Agent Model

  • Ernst Fehr
  • Klaus M. Schmidt

This paper reports on a two-task principal-agent experiment in which only one task is contractible. The principal can either offer a piece-rate contract or a (voluntary) bonus to the agent. Bonus contracts strongly outperform piece-rate contracts. Many principals reward high effort on both tasks with substantial bonuses. Agents anticipate this and provide high effort on both tasks. In contrast, almost all agents with a piece-rate contract focus on the first task and disregard the second. Principals understand this and predominantly offer bonus contracts. This behavior contradicts the self-interest theory but is consistent with theories of fairness. Copyright The editors of the "Scandinavian Journal of Economics", 2004 .

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal The Scandinavian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 106 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 (October)
Pages: 453-474

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Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:106:y:2004:i:3:p:453-474
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