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The Lure of Authority: Motivation and Incentive Effects of Power

  • Ernst Fehr
  • Holger Herz
  • Tom Wilkening

Authority and power permeate political, social, and economic life, but empirical knowledge about the motivational origins and consequences of authority is limited. We study the motivation and incentive effects of authority experimentally in an authority-delegation game. Individuals often retain authority even when its delegation is in their material interest - suggesting that authority has non-pecuniary consequences for utility. Authority also leads to over-provision of effort by the controlling parties, while a large percentage of subordinates under-provide effort despite pecuniary incentives to the contrary. Authority thus has important motivational consequences that exacerbate the inefficiencies arising from suboptimal delegation choices.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4021.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4021
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  1. Wouter Dessein, 2000. "Authority and Communication in Organizations," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1747, Econometric Society.
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  13. John R. Hamman & George Loewenstein & Roberto A. Weber, 2010. "Self-Interest through Delegation: An Additional Rationale for the Principal-Agent Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1826-46, September.
  14. Gary Charness & Ramon Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jimenez & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco Lagos, 2012. "The Hidden Advantage of Delegation: Pareto Improvements in a Gift Exchange Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2358-79, August.
  15. Emel Filiz-Ozbay & Erkut Y. Ozbay, 2007. "Auctions with Anticipated Regret: Theory and Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1407-1418, September.
  16. Lucas C. Coffman, 2011. "Intermediation Reduces Punishment (and Reward)," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 77-106, November.
  17. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1999. "Informal Authority in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 56-73, April.
  18. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Koch, Alexander K. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2008. "Belief Elicitation in Experiments: Is there a Hedging Problem?," IZA Discussion Papers 3517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. repec:oup:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:4:p:1133-1165 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. repec:oup:restud:v:69:y:2002:i:4:p:811-38 is not listed on IDEAS
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