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Optimal Contracts When a Worker Envies His Boss

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  • Amihai Glazer

Abstract

A worker's utility may increase with his income, but envy can make his utility decline with his employer's income. This article uses a principal-agent model to study profit-maximizing contracts when a worker envies his employer. Envy tightens the worker's participation constraint and so calls for higher pay and/or a softer effort requirement. Moreover, a firm with an envious worker can benefit from profit sharing, even when the worker's effort is fully contractible. We discuss several applications of our theoretical work: envy can explain why a lower-level worker is awarded stock options, why incentive pay is lower in nonprofit organizations, and how governmental production of a good can be cheaper than private production. The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Optimal Contracts When a Worker Envies His Boss," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 120-137, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:24:y:2008:i:1:p:120-137
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