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Corporate Governance for Crooks? The Case for Corporate Virtue

  • Margit Osterloh
  • Bruno S. Frey

Corporate scandals are reflected in excessive top management compensation and fraudulent accounts. These scandals cause an enormous amount of damage, not only to the companies affected, but also to the market economy as a whole. As a solution, conventional wisdom suggests more monitoring and sanctioning of management. We argue that these efforts will create a governance structure for crooks. Instead of solving the problem, they make it worse. Selfish extrinsic motivation is reinforced. We suggest measures which clash with conventional wisdom: selecting employees with pro-social intrinsic preferences, de-emphasizing variable pay for performance and strengthening the participation and self-governance of employees. These measures help to increase intrinsically motivated corporate virtue and honesty.

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Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2005-10.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2005-10
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  1. Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520, 07.
  2. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives-Trust and Trustworthiness Among CEOs," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 743-771, 09.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
  4. Marco Becht & Patrick Bolton & Ailsa Roell, 2003. "Corporate governance and control," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/13330, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
  6. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  7. Elster, Jon, 1996. "Rationality and the Emotions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1386-97, September.
  8. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix & Eichenberger, Reiner, 1996. "The Old Lady Visits Your Backyard: A Tale of Morals and Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1297-1313, December.
  9. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  10. Iris Bohnet & Bruno S. Frey & Steffen Huck, . "More Order with Less Law: On Contract Enforcement, Trust, and Crowding," IEW - Working Papers 052, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  11. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2000. "Motivation Crowding Theory: A Survey of Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 245, CESifo Group Munich.
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