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Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts

  • Baker, George
  • Gibbons, Robert
  • Murphy, Kevin J

Incentive contracts often include important subjective components that mitigate incentive distortions caused by imperfect objective measures. This paper explores the combined use of subjective and objective performance measures in (respectively) implicit and explicit incentive contracts. The authors show that the presence of sufficiently effective explicit contracts can render all implicit contracts infeasible, even those that would otherwise yield the first-best. The authors also show, however, that in some circumstances objective and subjective measures are complements: neither an explicit nor an implicit contract alone yields positive profit but an appropriate combination of the two does. Finally, the authors consider subjective weights on objective measures. Copyright 1994, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 109 (1994)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1125-56

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:4:p:1125-56
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  1. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
  2. Bull, Clive, 1987. "The Existence of Self-Enforcing Implicit Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 147-59, February.
  3. Baker, George P, 1992. "Incentive Contracts and Performance Measurement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 598-614, June.
  4. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
  5. Gibbons, Robert, 1987. "Piece-Rate Incentive Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 413-29, October.
  6. W. Bentley MacLeod & James M. Malcomson, 1986. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Working Papers 585, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. Michael Waldman, 1983. "Job Assignments, Signalling nad Efficiency," UCLA Economics Working Papers 286, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. HOLMSTROM, Bengt, . "Moral hazard and observability," CORE Discussion Papers RP -379, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  9. Prendergast, Canice, 1993. "The Role of Promotion in Inducing Specific Human Capital Acquisition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 523-34, May.
  10. Kahn, Charles & Huberman, Gur, 1988. "Two-sided Uncertainty and "Up-or-Out" Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 423-44, October.
  11. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  12. Abreu, Dilip, 1988. "On the Theory of Infinitely Repeated Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 383-96, March.
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