IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

On the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes

  • Dirk Sliwka

By enriching a principal-agent model it is shown that the introduction of monetary incentives may reduce an agent's motivation. In a first step, we allow for the possibility that some agents stick to unverifiable agreements. The larger the fraction of reliable agents, the lower powered will then be the optimal incentive scheme and fixed wages become optimal when performance measurement is costly. If social norms matter such that some agents' reliability is influenced by their beliefs on the convictions of others, high powered incentives signal that not sticking to agreements is a widespread behavior and may lead to lower effort levels.

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: no

Paper provided by University of Bonn, Germany in its series Bonn Econ Discussion Papers with number bgse12_2003.

in new window

Length: 40
Date of creation: May 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bon:bonedp:bgse12_2003
Contact details of provider: Postal: Bonn Graduate School of Economics, University of Bonn, Adenauerallee 24 - 26, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Fax: +49 228 73 6884
Web page:

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. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1990. "Optimal Incentive Contracts In The Presence Of Career Concerns: Theory And Evidence," Working papers 563, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 457, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. W. Bentley MacLeod & Daniel Parent, 1998. "Job Characteristics and the Form of Compensation," CIRANO Working Papers 98s-08, CIRANO.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2001. "Theories of Fairness and Reciprocity," Discussion Papers in Economics 14, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  6. Fehr, Ernst & Gächter, Simon, 2001. "Do Incentive Contracts Crowd Out Voluntary Cooperation?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3017, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
  8. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-55, September.
  11. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  12. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
  13. Edward P. Lazear, 1996. "Performance Pay and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Robert Gibbons, 1996. "Incentives and Careers in Organizations," NBER Working Papers 5705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2000. "A fine is a price," Natural Field Experiments 00258, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:791-810 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  18. Daniel Parent, 2001. "Incentive Pay in the United States: Its Determinants and Its Effects," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-04, CIRANO.
  19. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  20. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:2:p:437-59 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  22. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  23. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  24. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  25. repec:eme:rlepps:v:18:y:1999:i:1999:p:177-242 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Sliwka, Dirk, 2005. "Incentives, Decision Frames, and Motivation Crowding Out – An Experimental Investigation," IZA Discussion Papers 1758, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  27. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  28. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-64, May.
  29. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:97:y:1982:i:4:p:543-69 is not listed on IDEAS
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:bon:bonedp:bgse12_2003. 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: (BGSE Office)

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.