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Incentives and Workers’ Motivation in the Public Sector

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  • Josse Delfgaauw
  • Robert Dur

Abstract

Civil servants have a bad reputation of being lazy. However, citizens' personal experiences with civil servants appear to be significantly better. We develop a model of an economy in which workers differ in laziness and in public service motivation, and characterise optimal incentive contracts for public sector workers under different informational assumptions. When civil servants' effort is unverifiable, lazy workers find working in the public sector highly attractive and may crowd out workers with a public service motivation. When effort is verifiable, the government optimally attracts motivated workers as well as the economy's laziest workers by offering separating contracts, which are both distorted. Even though contract distortions reduce aggregate welfare, a majority of society may be better off as public goods come at a lower cost.

Suggested Citation

  • Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2004. "Incentives and Workers’ Motivation in the Public Sector," CESifo Working Paper Series 1223, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1223
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dur, Robert & Roelfsema, Hein, 2010. "Social exchange and common agency in organizations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 55-63, January.
    2. List, John A. & Rasul, Imran, 2011. "Field Experiments in Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    3. C. Stowe, 2009. "Incorporating morale into a classical agency model: implications for incentives, effort, and organization," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 147-164, April.
    4. Pierre Koning & J. Vyrastekova & S. Onderstal, 2006. "Team incentives in public organisations; an experimental study," CPB Discussion Paper 60, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    5. Laura Levaggi & Rosella Levaggi, 2010. "Strategic costs and preferences revelation in the allocation of resources for health care," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 239-256, September.
    6. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 616-636.
    7. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert, 2010. "Managerial talent, motivation, and self-selection into public management," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 654-660.
    8. Jacobsen, Karin J. & Eika, Kari H. & Helland, Leif & Lind, Jo Thori & Nyborg, Karine, 2011. "Are nurses more altruistic than real estate brokers?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 818-831.
    9. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2012. "Social Incentives Matter: Evidence from an Online Real Effort Experiment," AICCON Working Papers 112-2012, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
    10. Margaretha Buurman & Robert Dur, 2012. "Incentives and the Sorting of Altruistic Agents into Street-Level Bureaucracies," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1318-1345, December.
    11. Brekke, Kurt R. & Siciliani, Luigi & Straume, Odd Rune, 2012. "Can competition reduce quality?," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 9/2012, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    12. Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2009. "Disentangling the Sources of Pro-social Behavior in the Workplace: A Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2757, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Hasnain, Zahid & Manning, Nick & Pierskalla Henryk, 2012. "Performance-related pay in the public sector : a review of theory and evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6043, The World Bank.
    14. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Propper, Carol & Smith, Sarah L., 2011. "Management practices: Are not for profits different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8498, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Nyborg, Karine, 2010. "Selfish bakers, caring nurses? A model of work motivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 377-394, September.
    16. Buurman, Margaretha & Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Van den Bossche, Seth, 2012. "Public sector employees: Risk averse and altruistic?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 279-291.
    17. Dur, Robert & Glazer, Amihai, 2008. "The desire for impact," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 285-300, June.
    18. Paolo Balduzzi, 2006. "Models of Partnerships," Working Papers 96, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised May 2006.
    19. Mikel Berdud & Juan M. Cabasés & Jorge Nieto, 2012. "Incentives Beyond the Money: Identity and Motivational Capital in Public Organizations," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 1214, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.
    20. Liu, Ting & Ma, Ching-to Albert, 2013. "Health insurance, treatment plan, and delegation to altruistic physician," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 79-96.
    21. Sabrina Teyssier, 2008. "Les Modes de Rémunération comme MécanismesSélectifs de la Main d'oeuvre : Fondements Théoriques et Estimations Empiriques," Post-Print halshs-00303703, HAL.
    22. Yannis Georgellis & Elisabetta Iossa & Vurain Tabvuma, 2008. "Crowding Out Public Service Motivation," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 08-07, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
    23. Felipe Balmaceda, 2011. "Job Design and Incentives," Documentos de Trabajo 279, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public sector labour markets; incentive contracts; work ethics; public service motivation;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General
    • L30 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - General
    • M50 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - General

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