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Discretionary Bonuses as a Feedback Mechanism

  • Anton Suvorov

    ()

    (CEFIR and New Economic School)

  • Jeroen van de Ven

    ()

    (University of Amsterdam and Utrecht School of Economics)

This paper studies the use of discretionary rewards in a finitely repeated principal-agent relationship with moral hazard. We show that the principal, when she obtains a private subjective signal about the agent’s performance, may pay discretionary bonuses to provide credible feedback to the agent. Conistent with the often observed compression of ratings, we show that in equilibrium the principal communicates the agent’s interim performance imperfectly, i.e. she does not fully di?erentiate good and bad performance. Furthermore, we show that small rewards can have a large impact on the agent’s effort provided that the principal’s stake in the project is small. Our analysis further reveals that, also in accordance with the empirical findings, the principal may ex ante prefer to choose a ’smoky’, rather than a fully transparent performance monitoring system, thereby acquiring an implicit commitment device to reward the agent through discretionary bonuses.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR) in its series Working Papers with number w0088.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0088
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  1. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1993. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," NBER Working Papers 4480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alessandro Lizzeri & Margaret A. Meyer & Nicola Persico, 2002. "The Incentive Effects of Interim Performance Evaluations," Penn CARESS Working Papers 592e9328faf6e775bf331e1c0, Penn Economics Department.
  3. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 647-61, May.
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  6. Bentley MacLeod, 2001. "Optimal Contracting with Subjective Evaluation," Theory workshop papers 357966000000000036, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Jonathan Levin, 2000. "Relational Incentive Contracts," Working Papers 01002, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  8. Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520, 07.
  9. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  10. W. Bentley MacLeod & James M. Malcomson, 1986. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Working Papers 585, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  11. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  12. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 169-82, January.
  13. Bull, Clive, 1987. "The Existence of Self-Enforcing Implicit Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 147-59, February.
  14. 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.
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