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Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-Task Principle-Agent Model

  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Schmidt, Klaus M.

This Paper reports on a two-task principal-agent experiment in which only one task is contractible. The principal can either offer a piece-rate contract or a (voluntary) bonus to the agent. Bonus contracts strongly outperform piece rate contracts. Many principals reward high efforts on both tasks with substantial bonuses. Agents anticipate this and provide high efforts on both tasks. In contrast, almost all agents with a piece-rate contract focus on the first task and disregard the second. Principals understand this and predominantly offer bonus contracts. This behaviour contradicts the self-interest theory but is consistent with theories of fairness.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4464.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4464
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  1. Vital Anderhub & Simon Gächter & Manfred Königstein, 2002. "Efficient Contracting and Fair Play in a Simple Principal-Agent Experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-27, June.
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  7. Hellwig, Martin & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "Discrete-Time Approximations of the Holmström-Milgrom Brownian-Motion, Model of Intertemporal Incentive Provision," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 98-06, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
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