IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/joepsy/v47y2015icp62-76.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Optimal contracts based on subjective performance evaluations and reciprocity

Author

Listed:
  • Sebald, Alexander
  • Walzl, Markus

Abstract

As demonstrated in a recent laboratory experiment (see Sebald & Walzl, 2014), individuals tend to sanction others who subjectively evaluate their performance whenever this assessment falls short of the individuals’ self-evaluation. Interestingly, this is the case even if the individuals’ earnings are unaffected by the subjective performance appraisal. Hence, performance feedback which falls short of agents’ self-evaluations can be interpreted as an unkind act that triggers a negatively reciprocal response not only if the assessment determines agents’ earnings but also when it lacks monetary consequences. We propose a principal-agent model formalizing that agents might engage into conflict in response to ego-threatening performance appraisals and show that these conflicts stabilize principal-agent relationships based on subjective performance evaluations. In particular, we identify conditions for a positive welfare effect of increasing costs of conflict and a negative welfare effect of more capable agents.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebald, Alexander & Walzl, Markus, 2015. "Optimal contracts based on subjective performance evaluations and reciprocity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 62-76.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:47:y:2015:i:c:p:62-76
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2015.01.004
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167487015000057
    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. Dominique M. Demougin & Devon A. Garvie, 1991. "Contractual Design with Correlated Information under Limited Liability," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(4), pages 477-489, Winter.
    2. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 1-48.
    3. Johannes Berger & Christine Harbring & Dirk Sliwka, 2013. "Performance Appraisals and the Impact of Forced Distribution--An Experimental Investigation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 54-68, June.
    4. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2000. "Reciprocity and wage undercutting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1069-1078, May.
    5. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
    6. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    7. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2008. "Contracts as reference points � experimental evidence," IEW - Working Papers 393, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    8. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2011. "Contracts as Reference Points--Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 493-525, April.
    9. Dur, Robert & Non, Arjan & Roelfsema, Hein, 2010. "Reciprocity and incentive pay in the workplace," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 676-686, August.
    10. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2013. "Intention-based reciprocity and the hidden costs of control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 55-65.
    11. Luís Santos-Pinto & Joel Sobel, 2005. "A Model of Positive Self-Image in Subjective Assessments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1386-1402, December.
    12. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    13. Bentley W. MacLeod, 2003. "Optimal Contracting with Subjective Evaluation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 216-240, March.
    14. Suvorov, Anton & van de Ven, Jeroen, 2009. "Discretionary rewards as a feedback mechanism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 665-681, November.
    15. Olivier Compte & Andrew Postlewaite, 2004. "Confidence-Enhanced Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1536-1557, December.
    16. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
    17. Nick Netzer & Armin Schmutzler, 2014. "Explaining Gift-Exchange—The Limits Of Good Intentions," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(6), pages 1586-1616, December.
    18. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
    19. Alexander Sebald & Markus Walzl, 2014. "Subjective Performance Evaluations and Reciprocity in Principal–Agent Relations," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(2), pages 570-590, April.
    20. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    21. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
    22. 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.
    23. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2020. "Belief-Dependent Motivations and Psychological Game Theory," CESifo Working Paper Series 8285, CESifo.
    2. Alexander Sebald & Markus Walzl, 2014. "Subjective Performance Evaluations and Reciprocity in Principal–Agent Relations," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(2), pages 570-590, April.
    3. Livio, Luca & De Chiara, Alessandro, 2019. "Friends or foes? Optimal incentives for reciprocal agents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 245-278.

    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. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2013. "Intention-based reciprocity and the hidden costs of control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 55-65.
    2. Bierbrauer, Felix & Netzer, Nick, 2016. "Mechanism design and intentions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 557-603.
    3. Matthias Fahn, 2019. "Reciprocity in dynamic employment relationships," CESifo Working Paper Series 7634, CESifo.
    4. Dufwenberg, Martin & Servátka, Maroš & Vadovič, Radovan, 2017. "Honesty and informal agreements," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 269-285.
    5. Alexander Sebald & Markus Walzl, 2012. "Optimal contracts based on subjective evaluations and reciprocity," Working Papers 2012-16, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck, revised Nov 2014.
    6. Matthias Fahn, 2020. "Reciprocity in Dynamic Employment Relationships," CESifo Working Paper Series 8414, CESifo.
    7. Matthias Fahn, 2020. "Reciprocity in Dynamic Employment Relationships," Economics working papers 2020-12, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    8. Chassang, Sylvain & Zehnder, Christian, 2016. "Rewards and punishments: informal contracting through social preferences," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(3), September.
    9. Wiederhold, Simon & Riener, Gerhard, 2012. "Hidden Costs of Control in Social Groups," VfS Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 65407, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Alexander Sebald & Markus Walzl, 2008. "How Ego-threats Facilitate Contracts Based on Subjective Evaluations," Discussion Papers 08-19, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    11. Non, Arjan, 2012. "Gift-exchange, incentives, and heterogeneous workers," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 319-336.
    12. Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "The interaction between explicit and relational incentives: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 573-594.
    13. Burdin, Gabriel & Halliday, Simon & Landini, Fabio, 2018. "The hidden benefits of abstaining from control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 1-12.
    14. Gürtler, Oliver & Walkowitz, Gari & Wiesen, Daniel, 2019. "Do good and talk about it! Disclosure and reward of discretionary kindness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 323-342.
    15. Kajackaite, Agne & Werner, Peter, 2015. "The incentive effects of performance requirements – A real effort experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 84-94.
    16. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.
    17. Shchetinin, Oleg, 2009. "Contracting Under Reciprocal Altruism," MPRA Paper 13457, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Erin L. Krupka & Stephen Leider & Ming Jiang, 2017. "A Meeting of the Minds: Informal Agreements and Social Norms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(6), pages 1708-1729, June.
    19. Randolph Sloof & Ferdinand von Siemens, 2015. "Decision Initiation, Decision Implementation, and the Allocation of Decision Rights," CESifo Working Paper Series 5509, CESifo.
    20. Björn Bartling & Manuel Grieder & Christian Zehnder, 2015. "Does Competition Justify Inequality?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5651, CESifo.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Contracts; Subjective evaluations; Self-esteem; Ego-threats; Reciprocity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

    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:joepsy:v:47:y:2015:i:c:p:62-76. 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/joep .

    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.