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Can Higher Bonuses Lead to Less E ort? Incentive Reversal in Teams

  • Esteban F. Klor
  • Sebastian Kube
  • Eyal Winter
  • Ro'i Zultan

Conventional wisdom suggests that an increase in monetary incentives should induce agents to exert higher effort. In this paper, however, we demonstrate that this may not hold in team settings. In the context of sequential team production with positive externalities between agents, incentive reversal might occur: an increase in monetary incentives (either because rewards increase or effort costs decrease) may lead agents to exert lower effort in the completion of a joint task – even if agents are fully rational, self-centered money maximizers. Herein we discuss this seemingly paradoxical phenomenon and report on two experiments that provide supportive evidence.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 786969000000000073.

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Date of creation: 25 Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:786969000000000073
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  12. Johnson, Eric J. & Camerer, Colin & Sen, Sankar & Rymon, Talia, 2002. "Detecting Failures of Backward Induction: Monitoring Information Search in Sequential Bargaining," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 16-47, May.
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  16. Henry S. Farber, 2008. "Reference-Dependent Preferences and Labor Supply: The Case of New York City Taxi Drivers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1069-82, June.
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  18. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000. "A Fine is a Price," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
  19. Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
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