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The Role of Incentives in the Public Sector: Issues and Evidence

  • Simon Burgess
  • Marisa Ratto

    ()

Using incentive pay to improve public sector efficiency is an important component of the UK Government's public service modernisation agenda. In this paper, we review the important issues in performance pay in the public sector, and summarise the evidence on its effects. We consider how optimal incentives for public sector workers may differ from those in the private sector, and if so, what types of incentives are more appropriate for the public sector. We investigate the reasons for the infrequent use of explicit incentives in the public sector. We summarise evidence of particular relevance to the public sector, on issues such as the impact on output of incentive pay schemes, gaming and dysfunctional behaviour, multiple principals, intrinsic motivation and team-work. Finally, we comment on the design of new policies being introduced in the UK public sector in the light of the theoretical arguments and the evidence.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 03/071.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: May 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:03/071
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  17. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-75, September.
  18. Gerald Marschke & Pascal Courty, 2000. "An Empirical Investigation of Gaming Responses to Performance Incentives," Discussion Papers 00-12, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
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  25. Dewatripont, Mathias & Jewitt, Ian & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217, January.
  26. Robert W Drago & John S. Heywood, 1995. "The Choice of Payment Schemes: Australian Establishment Data," Working papers _006, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
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  29. Knez, Marc & Simester, Duncan, 2001. "Firm-Wide Incentives and Mutual Monitoring at Continental Airlines," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(4), pages 743-72, October.
  30. Pascal Courty & Gerald Marschke, 2004. "An Empirical Investigation of Gaming Responses to Explicit Performance Incentives," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 23-56, January.
  31. Barton H. Hamilton & Jack A. Nickerson & Hideo Owan, 2003. "Team Incentives and Worker Heterogeneity: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Teams on Productivity and Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 465-497, June.
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