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Delegation and nonmonetary incentives

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  • Ambrus, Attila
  • Egorov, Georgy

Abstract

In many contracting settings, actions costly to one party but with no direct benefits to the other (money-burning) may be part of the explicit or implicit contract. A leading example is bureaucratic procedures in an employer–employee relationship. We study a model of delegation with an informed agent, where the principal may impose money-burning on the agent as a function of the agent's choice of action, and show that money-burning may be part of the optimal contract. This result holds even if action-contingent monetary transfers are possible, as long as transfers from the principal to the agent are bounded from below (as in limited liability or minimal wage requirements). In fact, the optimal contract can involve a combination of both efficient monetary incentives and inefficient nonmonetary incentives through money burning. Our model delivers some results novel to the delegation literature. First, money-burning is more likely if the principal is more “sensitive” to the choice of action than the agent. This is consistent with the perception that there is more bureaucratization in large organizations. Second, money-burning is more likely if the agent's limited liability constraint is tighter relative to his participation constraint. This implies that a higher minimum wage distorts employment contracts towards using socially wasteful nonmonetary incentives, leading to a Pareto inferior outcome as the agent is still held down to his reservation value through increased money burning.

Suggested Citation

  • Ambrus, Attila & Egorov, Georgy, 2017. "Delegation and nonmonetary incentives," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 101-135.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:171:y:2017:i:c:p:101-135
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jet.2017.06.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Galperti, Simone, 2019. "A theory of personal budgeting," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 14(1), January.
    2. Juan Escobar & Qiaoxi Zhang, 2019. "Delegating Learning," Documentos de Trabajo 347, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    3. Manuel Amador & Kyle Bagwell & Alex Frankel, 2018. "A note on interval delegation," Economic Theory Bulletin, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 6(2), pages 239-249, October.
    4. Elias Tsakas & Nikolas Tsakas & Dimitrios Xefteris, 2017. "Resisting Persuasion," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 07-2017, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Delegation; Organizational procedures; Money burning;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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