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Does monitoring decrease work effort?: The complementarity between agency and crowding-out theories

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  • Dickinson, David
  • Villeval, Marie-Claire

Abstract

Agency theory assumes that tighter monitoring by the principal should motivate agents to increase their effort, whereas the "crowding-out" literature suggests that the opposite may occur. These two assertions are not necessarily contradictory provided that the nature of the employment relationship is taken into account [Frey, B., 1993. Does monitoring increase work effort? The rivalry between trust and loyalty. Econ. Inquiry 31, 663-670]. Results from controlled laboratory experiments show that many principals engage in costly monitoring, and most agents react to the disciplining effect of monitoring by increasing effort. However, we also find some evidence that effort is crowded out when monitoring is above a certain threshold. We identify that both interpersonal principal-agent links and concerns for the distribution of output payoff are important for the emergence of this crowding-out effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Dickinson, David & Villeval, Marie-Claire, 2008. "Does monitoring decrease work effort?: The complementarity between agency and crowding-out theories," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 56-76, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:63:y:2008:i:1:p:56-76
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • M5 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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