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Working in Public and Private Firms

  • Giacomo Corneo
  • Rafael Rob

We develop a theoretical framework for comparing the style of work in public and private enterprises. We incorporate ‘socializing’, as an activity that yields utility for workers and affects a firm’s output, into a simple multitask model of work organization. In contrast with previous models, we establish the two following results. First, the optimal workers’ compensation policy displays a larger incentive intensity in the private firm than in the public firm. Second, labour productivity in the private firm may be higher or lower than in the public firm. Both results fit well with the findings of empirical work.

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Paper provided by Penn Economics Department in its series Penn CARESS Working Papers with number 7942b6b570793de0891a05acb5d61374.

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Handle: RePEc:cla:penntw:7942b6b570793de0891a05acb5d61374
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  1. Boardman, Anthony E & Vining, Aidan R, 1989. "Ownership and Performance in Competitive Environments: A Comparison of the Performance of Private, Mixed, and State-Owned Enterprises," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 1-33, April.
  2. Corneo, Giacomo & Rob, Rafael, 2001. "Working in Public and Private Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 2719, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Weiss, Andrew W, 1980. "Job Queues and Layoffs in Labor Markets with Flexible Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 526-38, June.
  4. Roemer, John E. & Silvestre, Joaquim, 1992. "A welfare comparison of private and public monopoly," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 67-81, June.
  5. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1991. "Privatization and Incentives," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 84-105, Special I.
  6. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1778, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  8. Chamley, C. & Marchand, M. & Pestieau, P., 1989. "Linear incentive schemes to control public firms," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 5(2-3), pages 229-243.
  9. Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "State versus Private Ownership," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 133-150, Fall.
  10. Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-36, May.
  11. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
  12. repec:sae:niesru:v:107:y::i:1:p:63-73 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  14. Drago, Robert & Garvey, Gerald T, 1998. "Incentives for Helping on the Job: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-25, January.
  15. De Fraja, Giovanni, 1993. "Productive efficiency in public and private firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 15-30, January.
  16. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  17. Atkinson, Scott E. & Halvorsen, Robert, 1986. "The relative efficiency of public and private firms in a regulated environment: The case of U.S. electric utilities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 281-294, April.
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