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Thanks for Nothing? Not-for-Profits and Motivated Agents

  • Ghatak, Maitreesh
  • Mueller, Hannes Felix

We re-examine the labor donation theory of not-for-profits and show that these organizations may exist not necessarily because motivated workers prefer to work in them, or that they dominate for-profits in terms of welfare, but because the excess supply of motivated workers makes the non-profit form more attractive to managers. We show that if firms had to compete for motivated workers then not-for-profit firms would be competed out by for-profit firms. Therefore, the choice between not-for-profit and for-profit provision is not always a question of resolving incentive problems but also one of distribution of rents between management and workers, and consequently, the relative scarcity of workers plays an important role in this choice.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7663.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7663
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "Not-For-Profit Entrepreneurs," NBER Working Papers 6810, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Patrick Francois & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2008. "Pro-social Motivation and the Delivery of Social Services," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 54(1), pages 22-54, March.
  3. Gregg, Paul & Grout, Paul A. & Ratcliffe, Anita & Smith, Sarah & Windmeijer, Frank, 2011. "How important is pro-social behaviour in the delivery of public services?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 758-766, August.
  4. Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2009. "Quality, reputation and the choice of organizational form," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 515-527, August.
  5. Richard G. Frank & David S. Salkever, 1994. "Nonprofit Organizations in the Health Sector," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 129-144, Fall.
  6. Patrick Francois, 2002. "Not-for-profit Provision of Public Services," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 02/060, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  7. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
  8. Marc Bilodeau & Al Slivinski, . "Rational Nonprofit Entrepreneurship," Industrial Organization 9405001, EconWPA.
  9. W. Bentley MacLeod & James M. Malcomson, 1986. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Working Papers 585, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  10. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert, 2007. "Signaling and screening of workers' motivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 605-624, April.
  11. Lakdawalla, Darius & Philipson, Tomas, 2006. "The nonprofit sector and industry performance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1681-1698, September.
  12. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2005. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," NBER Working Papers 11535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Macchiavello, Rocco, 2008. "Public sector motivation and development failures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 201-213, April.
  14. H. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2003. "Nonprofit Sector and Part-Time Work: An Analysis of Employer-Employee Matched Data on Child Care Workers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 38-50, February.
  15. Rowat, Colin & Seabright, Paul, 2004. "Intermediation by Aid Agencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 4781, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. 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.
  17. repec:dgr:uvatin:20020050 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Leete, Laura, 2001. "Whither the Nonprofit Wage Differential? Estimates from the 1990 Census," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 136-70, January.
  19. Preston, Anne E, 1989. "The Nonprofit Worker in a For-Profit World," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 438-63, October.
  20. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-56, November.
  21. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Agency Problems and Residual Claims," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 327-49, June.
  22. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert A.J. Dur, 2002. "Signaling and Screening of Workers' Motivation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-050/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 04 Mar 2005.
  23. Susan Rose-Ackerman, 1996. "Altruism, Nonprofits, and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 701-728, June.
  24. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  25. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
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