The Benefits of Aggregate Performance Metrics in the Presence of Career Concerns
This paper considers the desirability of aggregate performance measures in light of the fact that many individuals' performance incentives are driven by a desire to shape external perceptions (and thus future pay). In contrast to the case of explicit incentive contracts, we find that when individuals' actions are driven by career incentives, an aggregate measure (e.g., group or team output) can sometimes alleviate moral hazard concerns and improve efficiency. Aggregation intermingles performance measures that may be differentially affected by skill and effort of many agents. When such entanglement increases the prospect that the external market will attribute an employee's effort-driven contribution to transferable skills, the employee exerts higher effort as a means of posturing to the market. The incentive benefit of aggregation is weighed against the incentive cost because of information loss. Information loss from aggregation can reduce the market's reliance on the measure and thus diminish agents' desire to undertake effort to influence the measure. This paper was accepted by Stefan Reichelstein, accounting.
Volume (Year): 57 (2011)
Issue (Month): 8 (August)
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