Incentives in academics: Collaboration under weak complementarities
This paper considers a contracting relationship with multiple agents in a repeated setting under voluntary team formation. In each period, an opportunity to collaborate arrives stochastically but whether this opportunity has arrived is the agents' private information. The principal thus cannot simply tell them when to collaborate; she must instead guide them through incentives. The optimal contract in the repeated setting can drastically be different from that in the static setting and is often characterized as high-powered team incentives complemented with inefficiently low-powered individual incentives, which endogenously raise the cost of shirking. We then argue that low-powered incentives offered for non-collaborative works, as often observed in our profession, can be seen as an important part of optimal incentive schemes in an attempt to endogenously raise the cost of shirking. The mechanism presented here also has implications for internal team competition (team competition within firms) which has become increasingly popular these days.
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