IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Screening, Competition, and Job Design: Economic Origins of Good Jobs

  • Bartling, Björn
  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Schmidt, Klaus M.

In recent decades, many firms offered more discretion to their employees, often increasing the productivity of effort but also leaving more opportunities for shirking. These "high-performance work systems" are difficult to understand in terms of standard moral hazard models. We show experimentally that complementarities between high effort discretion, rent-sharing, screening opportunities, and competition are important driving forces behind these new forms of work organization. We document in particular the endogenous emergence of two fundamentally distinct types of employment strategies. Employers either implement a control strategy, which consists of low effort discretion and little or no rent-sharing, or they implement a trust strategy, which stipulates high effort discretion and substantial rent-sharing. If employers cannot screen employees, the control strategy prevails, while the possibility of screening renders the trust strategy profitable. The introduction of competition substantially fosters the trust strategy, reduces market segmentation, and leads to large welfare gains for both employers and employees.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7658.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7658
Contact details of provider: Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. repec:cdl:indrel:146107 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Antonio Cabrales & Raffaele Miniaci & Marco Piovesan & Giovanni Ponti, 2010. "Social Preferences and Strategic Uncertainty: An Experiment on Markets and Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2261-78, December.
  3. Luís Cabral & Ali Hortacsu, 2004. "The Dynamics of Seller Reputation: Theory and Evidence from eBay," Working Papers 04-05, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  4. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  5. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2004. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 747-780, 05.
  6. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2003. "Beyond Incentive Pay: Insiders' Estimates of the Value of Complementary Human Resource Management Practices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 155-180, Winter.
  7. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  8. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
  9. Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Papers 90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  10. Frey, Bruno S., 1997. "On the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic work motivation1," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 427-439, July.
  11. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
  12. Dirk Sliwka, 2003. "On the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2003, University of Bonn, Germany.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M Schmidt, 2007. "Fairness and Contract Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 121-154, 01.
  14. Steffen Huck & Gabriele K. Ruchala & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2006. "Competition Fosters Trust," Discussion Papers 06-22, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  15. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  16. repec:eme:rlepps:v:18:y:1999:i:1999:p:177-242 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
  18. Gilles Saint-Paul, 1997. "Dual Labor Markets: A Macroeconomic Perspective," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262193760, June.
  19. Rebitzer, James B., 1995. "Is there a trade-off between supervision and wages? An empirical test of efficiency wage theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 107-129, September.
  20. repec:oup:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:2:p:437-59 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Francis Green, 2008. "Leeway for the Loyal: A Model of Employee Discretion," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(1), pages 1-32, 03.
  22. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  23. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
  24. Sliwka, Dirk, 2006. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," IZA Discussion Papers 2293, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  25. Jeffrey Pfeffer, 2007. "Human Resources from an Organizational Behavior Perspective: Some Paradoxes Explained," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 115-134, Fall.
  26. Martin Brown & Christian Zehnder, 2005. "Credit Registries, Relationship Banking and Loan Repayment," IEW - Working Papers 240, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  27. Paul Osterman, 1994. "How Common is Workplace Transformation and Who Adopts it?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(2), pages 173-188, January.
  28. Jeremy I. Bulow & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy, Discrimination and Keynesian Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 1666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Screening, Competition and Job Design: Economic Origins of Good Jobs (AER 2012) in ReplicationWiki
  2. SOEP based publications

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7658. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.