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Mixed up? that’s good for motivation

  • Alexander Koch

    ()

  • Eloïc Peyrache

    ()

An essential ingredient in models of career concerns is ex ante uncertainty about an agent's type. This paper shows how career concerns can arise even in the absence of any such ex ante uncertainty, if the unobservable actions that an agent takes influence his future productivity. By implementing effort in mixed strategies the principal can endogenously induce uncertainty about the agent's ex post productivity and generate reputational incentives. Our main result is that creating such ambiguity can be optimal for the principal, even though this exposes the agent to additional risk and reduces output. This finding demonstrates the importance of mixed strategies in contracting environments with imperfect commitment, which contrasts with standard agency models where implementing mixed strategy actions typically is not optimal if pure strategies are also implementable.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00199-007-0206-y
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 34 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 107-125

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:34:y:2008:i:1:p:107-125
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  1. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  2. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The economics of career concerns: part 1 :comparing information structures," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9617, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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  7. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
  8. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1997. "Incomplete Contracts and Strategic Ambiguity," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1787, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Shin Hyun Song, 1994. "The Burden of Proof in a Game of Persuasion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 253-264, October.
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  11. Meyer, Margaret A & Vickers, John, 1997. "Performance Comparisons and Dynamic Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 547-81, June.
  12. John Fingleton, 2005. "Career Concerns of Bargainers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 179-204, April.
  13. Fahad Khalil, 1997. "Auditing Without Commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 629-640, Winter.
  14. Borland, Jeff, 1992. " Career Concerns: Incentives and Endogenous Learning in Labour Markets," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 251-70.
  15. Koessler, Frederic, 2004. "Strategic knowledge sharing in Bayesian games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 292-320, August.
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