IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Technology choice, relative performance pay, and worker heterogeneity

  • Kräkel, Matthias
  • Schöttner, Anja

Abstract We identify a new problem that may arise when heterogeneous workers are motivated by relative performance pay: if workers' abilities and the production technology are complements, the firm may prefer not to adopt a more advanced technology even though this technology would costlessly increase each worker's productivity. Due to the complementarity between ability and technology, under technology adoption the productivity of a more able worker increases more strongly than the productivity of a less able colleague. As a consequence, both workers' motivation to exert effort is reduced. We show that this adverse incentive effect is dominant and, consequently, keeps the firm from introducing a better production technology if talent uncertainty is sufficiently high and/or monitoring of workers is sufficiently precise.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 76 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 748-758

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:748-758
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
  2. Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1992. "Asymmetric Tournaments, Equal Opportunity Laws, and Affirmative Action: Some Experimental Results," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 511-39, May.
  3. Macleod, W.B. & Kanemoto, Y., 1990. "Firm Reputation And Self-Enforcing Labour Contracts," Cahiers de recherche 9026, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  4. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, And The Demand For Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376, February.
  5. Ajay Kalra & Mengze Shi, 2001. "Designing Optimal Sales Contests: A Theoretical Perspective," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(2), pages 170-193, December.
  6. Treble, John & van Gameren, Edwin & Bridges, Sarah & Barmby, Tim, 2001. "The internal economics of the firm: further evidence from personnel data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(5), pages 531-552, December.
  7. Steven Tadelis, 2002. "The Market for Reputations as an Incentive Mechanism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 854-882, August.
  8. Dominique M. Demougin & Devon a. Garvie, 1991. "Contractual Design with Correlated Information Under Limited Liability," Working Papers 815, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  9. O'Keeffe, Mary & Viscusi, W Kip & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1984. "Economic Contests: Comparative Reward Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 27-56, January.
  10. J. Amegashie & Marco Runkel, 2007. "Sabotaging Potential Rivals," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 143-162, January.
  11. Hvide, H.K., 1999. "Tournament Rewards and Risk Taking," Papers 32-99, Tel Aviv.
  12. Jerry R. Green & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Matthias Sutter & Christina Strassmair, 2007. "Communication, cooperation and collusion in team tournaments ? An experimental study," Working Papers 2007-19, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  14. Dragon, Robert & Garvey, Gerald T. & Turnbull, Geoffrey K., 1996. "A collective tournament," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 223-227, February.
  15. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-76, July.
  16. Ishiguro, Shingo, 2004. "Collusion and discrimination in organizations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 357-369, June.
  17. Johannes Münster, 2007. "Selection Tournaments, Sabotage, and Participation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 943-970, December.
  18. Kong-Pin Chen, 2003. "Sabotage in Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 119-140, April.
  19. Matthias Kräkel & Dirk Sliwka, 2004. "Risk Taking in Asymmetric Tournaments," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 5(1), pages 103-116, 02.
  20. Gürtler, Oliver & Kräkel, Matthias, 2008. "Optimal Tournament Contracts for Heterogeneous Workers," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 234, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  21. Madhav V. Rajan & Stefan Reichelstein, 2006. "Subjective Performance Indicators and Discretionary Bonus Pools," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 585-618, 06.
  22. Chen, Zhijun, 2006. "Fighting Collusion in Tournaments," MPRA Paper 872, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  23. Demougin, Dominique & Fluet, Claude, 2001. "Monitoring versus incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1741-1764, October.
  24. Ernst R. Berndt & Catherine J. Morrison & Larry S. Rosenblum, 1992. "High-Tech Capital Formation and Labor Composition in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: An Exploratory Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Malcomson, James M, 1984. "Work Incentives, Hierarchy, and Internal Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 486-507, June.
  26. Malcomson, James M, 1986. "Rank-Order Contracts for a Principal with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(5), pages 807-17, October.
  27. Kräkel, Matthias, 2008. "Optimal risk taking in an uneven tournament game with risk averse players," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(11), pages 1219-1231, December.
  28. Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Internal Economics of the Firm: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 881-919, November.
  29. Dixit, Avinash K, 1987. "Strategic Behavior in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 891-98, December.
  30. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2002. "Relational Contracts And The Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 39-84, February.
  31. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Bull, Clive, 1987. "The Existence of Self-Enforcing Implicit Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 147-59, February.
  33. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:748-758. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.