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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. Bilodeau, M. & Slivinsky, A., 1994. "Rational Nonprofit Entrepreneurship," Cahiers de recherche 94-02a, Departement d'Economique de la Faculte d'administration à l'Universite de Sherbrooke.
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  3. H. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2000. "Nonprofit Sector and Part-Time Work: An Analysis of Employer-Employee Matched Data of Child Care Workers," NBER Working Papers 7977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
  5. Besley, Timothy J. & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2004. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," CEPR Discussion Papers 4641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Michael Vlassopoulos, 2009. "Quality, Reputation and the Choice of Organizational Form," Post-Print hal-00677623, HAL.
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  9. 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.
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  12. 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.
  13. Paul Gregg & Paul A. Grout & Anita Ratcliffe & Sarah Smith & Frank Windmeijer, 2008. "How important is pro-social behaviour in the delivery of public services?," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/197, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  14. Susan Rose-Ackerman, 1996. "Altruism, Nonprofits, and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 701-728, June.
  15. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  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. 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.
  20. 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.
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  23. Lakdawalla, Darius & Philipson, Tomas, 2006. "The nonprofit sector and industry performance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1681-1698, September.
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