IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jeborg/v159y2019icp366-383.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

An experimental study of incentive contracts for short- and long-term employees

Author

Listed:
  • Chi, Wei
  • Liu, Tracy Xiao
  • Qian, Xiaoye
  • Ye, Qing

Abstract

Motivated by real-world observations of different contract offers, we conduct a lab experiment to examine a principal's contract choice and agent effort in both long- and short-term employment relationships, implemented as one-shot and repeated games. We find that a piece-rate contract has the strongest incentive effect on short-term agents’ effort and is the principals’ dominant choice. Nevertheless, the bonus contract works almost as well as the piece-rate contract for long-term relationships, but not so well for short-term relationships. In addition, the bonus contract's effect on effort is mainly driven by the bonus component, suggesting that a fixed wage alone is not an effective mechanism to improve workers’ performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Chi, Wei & Liu, Tracy Xiao & Qian, Xiaoye & Ye, Qing, 2019. "An experimental study of incentive contracts for short- and long-term employees," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 366-383.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:159:y:2019:i:c:p:366-383
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.02.006
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268119300356
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ben-Ner, Avner & Putterman, Louis, 2009. "Trust, communication and contracts: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 106-121, May.
    2. Paarsch, Harry J & Shearer, Bruce, 2000. "Piece Rates, Fixed Wages, and Incentive Effects: Statistical Evidence from Payroll Records," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(1), pages 59-92, February.
    3. Eriksson, Tor & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2008. "Performance-pay, sorting and social motivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 412-421, November.
    4. Felipe A. Araujo & Erin Carbone & Lynn Conell-Price & Marli W. Dunietz & Ania Jaroszewicz & Rachel Landsman & Diego Lamé & Lise Vesterlund & Stephanie W. Wang & Alistair J. Wilson, 2016. "The slider task: an example of restricted inference on incentive effects," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-12, May.
    5. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2000. "Fairness, incentives, and contractual choices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1057-1068, May.
    6. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
    7. Keith Bender & Colin Green & John Heywood, 2012. "Piece rates and workplace injury: Does survey evidence support Adam Smith?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(2), pages 569-590, January.
    8. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
    9. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2007. "Reputations, Relationships, and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 595-628, September.
    10. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2004. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 747-780, May.
    11. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-480, March.
    12. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M Schmidt, 2007. "Fairness and Contract Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 121-154, January.
    13. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk, 2011. "Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting: Productivity, Preferences, and Gender," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 556-590, April.
    14. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    15. Casari, Marco & Cason, Timothy N., 2013. "Explicit versus implicit contracts for dividing the benefits of cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 20-34.
    16. Franceschelli, Ignacio & Galiani, Sebastian & Gulmez, Eduardo, 2010. "Performance pay and productivity of low- and high-ability workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 317-322, April.
    17. Ian Larkin & Stephen Leider, 2012. "Incentive Schemes, Sorting, and Behavioral Biases of Employees: Experimental Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 184-214, May.
    18. Carroll, Gabriel & Meng, Delong, 2016. "Locally robust contracts for moral hazard," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 36-51.
    19. David Gill & Victoria Prowse, 2012. "A Structural Analysis of Disappointment Aversion in a Real Effort Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 469-503, February.
    20. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 1994. "A Course in Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650401, September.
    21. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
    22. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-431, July.
    23. Gabriel Carroll, 2015. "Robustness and Linear Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(2), pages 536-563, February.
    24. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    25. Bruce Shearer, 2004. "Piece Rates, Fixed Wages and Incentives: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 513-534.
    26. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1997. "The Growth of Temporary Services Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
    27. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    28. Shi Lan, 2010. "Incentive Effect of Piece-Rate Contracts: Evidence from Two Small Field Experiments," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-34, July.
    29. Lugovskyy, Volodymyr & Puzzello, Daniela & Sorensen, Andrea & Walker, James & Williams, Arlington, 2017. "An experimental study of finitely and infinitely repeated linear public goods games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 286-302.
    30. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Erkal, Nisvan & Wu, Steven Y. & Roe, Brian E., 2014. "Strategic Incomplete Contracts: Theory and Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 8704, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Corgnet, Brice & Hernán-González, Roberto & Rassenti, Stephen, 2015. "Firing threats: Incentive effects and impression management," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 97-113.
    3. Gächter, Simon & Kessler, Esther & Königstein, Manfred, 2011. "The Roles of Incentives and Voluntary Cooperation for Contractual Compliance," IZA Discussion Papers 5774, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Bellemare, Charles & Lepage, Patrick & Shearer, Bruce, 2010. "Peer pressure, incentives, and gender: An experimental analysis of motivation in the workplace," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 276-283, January.
    5. Armin Falk & David Huffman & W. Bentley Macleod, 2015. "Institutions and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(3), pages 571-590.
    6. Jared Rubin & Anya Samek & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2016. "Incentivizing Quantity and Quality of Output: An Experimental Investigation of the Quantity-Quality Trade-off," Working Papers 16-01, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    7. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    8. Bernard, Mark & Dohmen, Thomas & Non, Arjan & Rohde, Ingrid M.T., 2019. "Menus of contracts determine sorting patterns," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 293-311.
    9. Cornelissen, Thomas & Heywood, John S. & Jirjahn, Uwe, 2011. "Performance pay, risk attitudes and job satisfaction," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 229-239, April.
    10. Raszap Skorbiansky, Sharon, 2018. "Investing in communication: An experimental study of communication in a relational contract setting," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 85-96.
    11. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce, 2009. "Gift giving and worker productivity: Evidence from a firm-level experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 233-244, September.
    12. Neyse, Levent & Friedl, Andreas & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2014. "Payment Scheme Changes and Effort Provision: The Effect of Digit Ratio," MPRA Paper 59549, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Friedl, Andreas & Neyse, Levent & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2018. "Payment scheme changes and effort Adjustment: The role of 2D:4D digit ratio," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 86-94.
    14. Macera, Rosario, 2018. "Present or future incentives? On the optimality of fixed wages with moral hazard," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 129-144.
    15. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Dan Kovenock & Roman Sheremeta, 2015. "A survey of experimental research on contests, all-pay auctions and tournaments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(4), pages 609-669, December.
    16. Gary Charness & David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "The Dark Side of Competition for Status," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(1), pages 38-55, January.
    17. Macera, Rosario, 2018. "Intertemporal incentives under loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 551-594.
    18. Haigner Stefan & Höchtl Wolfgang & Schneider Friedrich Georg & Wakolbinger Florian & Jenewein Stefan, 2012. "Keep On Working: Unconditional Basic Income in the Lab," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-14, December.
    19. Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria, 2019. "Measuring costly effort using the slider task," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 1-9.
    20. Gary Charness & David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "The Dark Side of Competition for Status (preprint)," Working Papers halshs-01090241, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Incentive contract; Repeated game; Experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:159:y:2019:i:c:p:366-383. 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: (Nithya Sathishkumar). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.