IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/apl/wpaper/07-16.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Peter Principle: An Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • David L. Dickinson
  • Marie-Claire Villeval

Abstract

The Peter Principle states that, after a promotion, the observed output of promoted employees tends to fall. Lazear (2004) models this principle as resulting from a regression to the mean of the transitory component of ability. Our experiment reproduces this model in the laboratory by means of various treatments in which we alter the variance of the transitory ability. We also compare the efficiency of an exogenous promotion standard with a treatment where subjects self-select their task. Our evidence confirms the Peter Principle when the variance of the transitory ability is large. In most cases, the efficiency of job allocation is higher when using a promotion rule than when employees are allowed to self-select their task. This is likely due to subjects’ bias regarding their transitory ability. Naïve thinking, more than optimism/pessimism bias, may explain why subjects do not distort their effort prior to promotion, contrary to Lazear’s (2004) prediction. Key Words: Promotion, Peter Principle, Sorting, Experiment

Suggested Citation

  • David L. Dickinson & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2007. "The Peter Principle: An Experiment," Working Papers 07-16, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:07-16
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://econ.appstate.edu/RePEc/pdf/wp0716.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eric Van den Steen, 2004. "Rational Overoptimism (and Other Biases)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1141-1151, September.
    2. Dan Bernhardt, 1995. "Strategic Promotion and Compensation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 315-339.
    3. Alexander K. Koch & Julia Nafziger, 2012. "Job Assignments under Moral Hazard: The Peter Principle Revisited," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(4), pages 1029-1059, December.
    4. Margaret A. Meyer, 1991. "Learning from Coarse Information: Biased Contests and Career Profiles," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 15-41.
    5. Edward P. Lazear, 2004. "The Peter Principle: A Theory of Decline," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 141-163, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Pluchino, Alessandro & Rapisarda, Andrea & Garofalo, Cesare, 2010. "The Peter principle revisited: A computational study," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 389(3), pages 467-472.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:07-16. 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: (O. Ashton Morgan). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/deappus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.