IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Experimental perspectives on incentives in organisations

  • Bernd Irlenbusch


Registered author(s):

    Controllability is the decisive advantage of experimental research. Therefore this method suggests itself for investigating clear-cut hypothesis regarding the impact of managerial design issues on organisational behaviour. The current paper reviews selective experimental findings on behaviour under various incentives schemes. It is found that the effectiveness of fixed wages is to a large extent determined by social norms like reciprocity. Fixed wages are analysed if effort is intransparent and in the presence of career concerns. Furthermore they are contrasted with piece rate schemes. Different design options of relative compensation, are discussed with a special emphasis on taking sabotage activities into account. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2006

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Central European Journal of Operations Research.

    Volume (Year): 14 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 1-24

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:spr:cejnor:v:14:y:2006:i:1:p:1-24
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-24, December.
    2. Paarsch, Harry J. & Shearer, Bruce, 1996. "Piece Rates, Fixed Wages, and Incentive Effects: Statistical Evidence from Payroll Records," Cahiers de recherche 9623, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
    3. Nalbantian, Haig & Schotter, Andrew, 1994. "Productivity Under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 94-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
    5. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
    6. Green, Jerry & Stokey, Nancy, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Scholarly Articles 3203644, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Moldovanu, Benny & Sela, Aner, 1999. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-75, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    8. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
    9. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 1668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Luis Garicano & Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2001. "An Empirical Examination of Multidimensional Effort in Tournaments," Working Papers 2001-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    11. O'Keeffe, Mary & Viscusi, W Kip & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1984. "Economic Contests: Comparative Reward Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 27-56, January.
    12. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    13. Eriksson, Tor, 1999. "Executive Compensation and Tournament Theory: Empirical Tests on Danish Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 262-80, April.
    14. van der Heijden, Eline C M, et al, 2001. "Simple and Complex Gift Exchange in the Laboratory," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 280-97, April.
    15. Kong-Pin Chen, 2003. "Sabotage in Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 119-140, April.
    16. Huck, Steffen, 1999. "Responder behavior in ultimatum offer games with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 183-206, April.
    17. Clark, Kenneth & Sefton, Martin, 2001. "The Sequential Prisoner's Dilemma: Evidence on Reciprocation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 51-68, January.
    18. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2005. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 161(4), pages 636-, December.
    19. van der Heijden, E.C.M. & Nelissen, J.H.M. & Potters, J.J.M. & Verbon, H.A.A., 2001. "Simple and complex gift exchange in the laboratory," Other publications TiSEM cf38153a-2229-414a-92dc-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    20. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
    21. Bingley, P. & Eriksson, T, 2001. "Pay Spread and Skewness. Employee Effort and Firm Productivity," Papers 01-2, Aarhus School of Business - Department of Economics.
    22. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2003. "Why labour market experiments?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 399-406, August.
    23. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    24. Mitzkewitz, Michael & Nagel, Rosemarie, 1993. "Experimental Results on Ultimatum Games with Incomplete Information," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 171-98.
    25. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1985. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 85-21, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    26. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    27. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
    28. Abbink, Klaus & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Renner, Elke, 2000. "The moonlighting game: An experimental study on reciprocity and retribution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 265-277, June.
    29. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2008. "How many winners are good to have?: On tournaments with sabotage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 682-702, March.
    30. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Sliwka, Dirk, 2006. "Career concerns in a simple experimental labour market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 147-170, January.
    31. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Ockenfels, Peter, 1996. "Two-Level Ultimatum Bargaining with Incomplete Information: An Experimental Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 593-604, May.
    32. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Sliwka, Dirk, 2005. "Transparency and reciprocal behavior in employment relations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 383-403, March.
    33. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2003. "An experimental study on tournament design," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 443-464, August.
    34. Weigelt, Keith & Dukerich, Janet & Schotter, Andrew, 1989. "Reactions to discrimination in an incentive pay compensation scheme: A game-theoretic approach," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 26-44, August.
    35. Fahr, Rene & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2000. "Fairness as a constraint on trust in reciprocity: earned property rights in a reciprocal exchange experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 275-282, March.
    36. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2004. "Incentives in Tournaments with Endogenous Prize Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 1340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    37. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2000. "Reciprocity and wage undercutting," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5905, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    38. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
    39. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of the Daily Labor Supply of Stadium Vendors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 360-392, April.
    40. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Measuring Beliefs in an Experimental Lost Wallet Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 163-182, February.
    41. Frans van Dijk & Joep Sonnemans & Frans van Winden, 2000. "Incentive Systems in a Real Effort Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 272, CESifo Group Munich.
    42. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:cejnor:v:14:y:2006:i:1:p:1-24. 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: (Sonal Shukla)

    or (Christopher F Baum)

    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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.