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Team or Individual: What Determines Workers' Preferred Bonus Schemes?

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  • Gaute Torsvik

Abstract

This paper uses data from a firm with team production to investigate the association between workers’ productivity, risk aversion and preferred bonus scheme (team or individual). Standard economics make a strong prediction in this case. Workers persistently producing above the team average should vote for an individual bonus. The only concern that may moderate this preference is risk aversion. The economic model predicts the case at hand fairly well. Relative work place productivity is strongly associated with a preference for individual bonuses, and risk aversion is associated with a preference for a team bonus. There is, however, one noticeable exception to this pattern: a substantial fraction of low performers prefer an individual bonus. I argue there are two types of other regarding concerns that can explain why under-performers prefer a payment system that reduces their income; distributional fairness and social emotions.

Suggested Citation

  • Gaute Torsvik, 2011. "Team or Individual: What Determines Workers' Preferred Bonus Schemes?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3658, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3658
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    2. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962.
    3. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
    4. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus & Tjøtta, Sigve & Torsvik, Gaute, 2010. "Testing guilt aversion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 95-107, January.
    5. Englmaier, Florian & Wambach, Achim, 2010. "Optimal incentive contracts under inequity aversion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 312-328, July.
    6. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
    7. Justin Esarey & Timothy C. Salmon & Charles Barrilleaux, 2012. "What Motivates Political Preferences? Self-Interest, Ideology, And Fairness In A Laboratory Democracy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(3), pages 604-624, July.
    8. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
    9. Fershtman, Chaim & Gneezy, Uri & List, John, 2008. "Equity Aversion," CEPR Discussion Papers 6853, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    payment systems; risk aversion; social appraisal; fairness;

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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