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The effect of ambiguity aversion on reward scheme choice

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  • Kellner, Christian
  • Riener, Gerhard

Abstract

We test the implications of ambiguity aversion in a principal–agent problem with multiple agents. Models of ambiguity aversion suggest that, under ambiguity, comparative compensation schemes may become more attractive than independent wage contracts. We test this by presenting agents with a choice between comparative reward schemes and independent contracts, which are designed such that under uncertainty about output distributions (that is, under ambiguity), ambiguity averse agents should typically prefer comparative reward schemes, independent of their degree of risk aversion. We indeed find that the share of agents who choose the comparative scheme is higher under ambiguity.

Suggested Citation

  • Kellner, Christian & Riener, Gerhard, 2014. "The effect of ambiguity aversion on reward scheme choice," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 125(1), pages 134-137.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:125:y:2014:i:1:p:134-137
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2014.08.025
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    2. Kellner, Christian, 2015. "Tournaments as a response to ambiguity aversion in incentive contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 627-655.
    3. Dilip Mookherjee, 1984. "Optimal Incentive Schemes with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 433-446.
    4. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    5. Yoram Halevy, 2007. "Ellsberg Revisited: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 503-536, March.
    6. Stefan T. Trautmann & Ferdinand M. Vieider & Peter P. Wakker, 2011. "Preference Reversals for Ambiguity Aversion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(7), pages 1320-1333, July.
    7. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Qi Liu & Lei Lu & Bo Sun, 2017. "Incentive Contracting Under Ambiguity Aversion," International Finance Discussion Papers 1195, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Hogarth, Robin M. & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2014. "Ambiguous incentives and the persistence of effort: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 1-19.
    3. Kellner, Christian, 2015. "Tournaments as a response to ambiguity aversion in incentive contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 627-655.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ambiguity aversion; Comparative compensation schemes; Ellsberg urn; Contract design;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • M55 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Contracting Devices

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