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On the Neutrality of Asset Ownership for Work Incentives

  • Dow, Gregory K.

Two ownership systems are compared: one where outsiders own the physical assets of firms and another where these assets are jointly owned by workers. Effort and side payments are self-enforced. Market-wide incentive constraints lead to restrictions on the distribution of profit between capital and labor which differ for the two systems. But these asymmetries are exactly offset by the bundling of input returns in a joint ownership economy, so for any self-enforcing equilibrium on the second-best frontier of one system there exists an equivalent equilibrium on the frontier of the other. An efficient outside ownership economy cannot be destabilized by spontaneous transitions to joint ownership or conversely. When capital is scarce, welfare maximization requires that all profit go to workers, but when labor is scarce all profit should go to asset owners.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WHV-45FC5SY-S/2/8a5a3dcd89e38a6c0be5b17412caa297
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Comparative Economics.

Volume (Year): 28 (2000)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 581-605

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:28:y:2000:i:3:p:581-605
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622864

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  1. Gregory Dow, 1996. "Replicating Walrasian equilibria using markets for membership in labor-managed firms," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 147-162, December.
  2. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  3. Dow, Gregory K, 1993. "Why Capital Hires Labor: A Bargaining Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 118-34, March.
  4. Dow, G & Putterman, L, 1996. "Why Capital (Usually) Hires Labor : An Assessment of Proposed Explanations," Discussion Papers dp97-03, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  5. Putterman, Louis & Skillman, Gilbert L., 1992. "The role of exit costs in the theory of cooperative teams," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 596-618, December.
  6. Dong Xiao-yuan & Dow Gregory K., 1993. "Does Free Exit Reduce Shirking in Production Teams?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 472-484, June.
  7. Dow, Gregory K., 1986. "Control rights, competitive markets, and the labor management debate," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 48-61, March.
  8. David Andolfatto & Ed Nosal, 1997. "Optimal Team Contracts," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(2), pages 385-96, May.
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