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Implicit vs. Explicit Incentives: Theory and a Case Study

  • Dominique Demougin
  • Oliver Fabel
  • Christian Thomann

We derive the optimal contract between a principal and a liquidity-constrained agent in a stochastically repeated environment. The contract comprises a court-enforceable explicit bonus rule and an implicit fixed salary promise that must be self-enforcing. Since the agent’s rent increases with bonus pay, the principal implements the maximum credible salary promise. Thus, the bonus increases while the salary promise and the agent’s effort decrease with a higher probability of premature contract termination. We subject this mechanism to econometric testing using personnel data of an insurance company. The empirical results strongly support our theoretical predictions.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2009/wp-cesifo-2009-05/cesifo1_wp2645.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2645.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2645
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  1. J. David Cummins & Neil A. Doherty, 2006. "The Economics of Insurance Intermediaries," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 73(3), pages 359-396.
  2. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  3. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1994. "A Test for Moral Hazard in the Labor Market: Contractual Arrangements, Effort, and Health," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 213-27, May.
  4. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
  5. I. Theodossiou & M.J. White, 1998. "Does tenure affect earnings?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 25(4), pages 328-343, September.
  6. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883, June.
  7. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
  8. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-56, November.
  9. Rachel M. Hayes & Scott Schaefer, 2000. "Implicit Contracts and the Explanatory Power of Top Executive Compensation for Future Performance," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 273-293, Summer.
  10. Robert Eisner & Robert H. Strotz, 1961. "Flight Insurance and the Theory of Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 355.
  11. Canice Prendergast, 2000. "What Trade-Off of Risk and Incentives?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 421-425, May.
  12. Rayton, Bruce A., 2003. "The residual claim of rank and file employees," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 129-148, January.
  13. Pearce, David G. & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1998. "The Interaction of Implicit and Explicit Contracts in Repeated Agency," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 75-96, April.
  14. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
  15. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  16. R. Lynn Hannan & John H. Kagel & Donald V. Moser, 2002. "Partial Gift Exchange in an Experimental Labor Market: Impact of Subject Population Differences, Productivity Differences, and Effort Requests on Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 923-951, October.
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