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Incentives in the Public Sector: Some Preliminary Evidence from a UK Government Agency

  • Simon Burgess
  • Carol Propper
  • Marisa Ratto
  • Emma Tominey


This paper evaluates the impact of a team-based incentive scheme piloted in the public sector agency, Jobcentre Plus. The way the scheme has been designed raises many questions for which theory makes predictions. We test these predictions against our data. We find that team size affects the impact of the incentive scheme upon performance. Moreover, while the measure of quantity increased in incentivised areas, no improvement was found for the two quality measures. This may reflect concerns related to multi-tasking issues, or may reflect the small sample size available for the quality analysis. Finally, the data suggests that employees participating in the incentive scheme aim to exert a level of effort to ensure the target is achieved, but as additional effort is not rewarded they aim not to exceed this limit.

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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 03/080.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:03/080
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  1. Simon Burgess & Marisa Ratto, 2003. "The Role of Incentives in the Public Sector: Issues and Evidence," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/071, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  2. Simon Burgess & Marisa Ratto, 2003. "The Role of Incentives in the Public Sector: Issues and Evidence," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 285-300, Summer.
  3. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  4. repec:rus:hseeco:124059 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Glenn MacDonald & Leslie M. Marx, 2001. "Adverse Specialization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 864-899, August.
  6. Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-36, May.
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