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

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  • Björn Bartling
  • Ernst Fehr
  • Klaus M. Schmidt

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Björn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2010. "Screening, Competition, and Job Design: Economic Origins of Good Jobs," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 263, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp263
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ester Manna & Alessandro De Chiara, 2016. "Delegation with a Reciprocal Agent," UB Economics Working Papers 2016/346, Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat d'Economia i Empresa, UB Economics.
    2. Englmaier, Florian & Strasser, Sebastian & Winter, Joachim, 2014. "Worker characteristics and wage differentials: Evidence from a gift-exchange experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 185-203.
    3. Lea Cassar, 2014. "Optimal contracting with endogenous project mission," ECON - Working Papers 150, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Oct 2014.
    4. Matteo Ploner & Katrin Schmelz & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2010. "Hidden Costs of Control: Three Repetitions and an Extension," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-007, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    5. Anthony Ziegelmeyer & Katrin Schmelz & Matteo Ploner, 2012. "Hidden costs of control: four repetitions and an extension," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(2), pages 323-340, June.
    6. Ines Läufer, 2014. "Das Krankenversicherungssystem in den USA: Bestimmungsparameter des Angebots und der Ausgestaltungformen von Arbeitgeber-Gruppenversicherungen," Otto-Wolff-Institut Discussion Paper Series 03/2014, Otto-Wolff-Institut für Wirtschaftsordnung, Köln, Deutschland.
    7. Englmaier, Florian & Segal, Carmit, 2016. "Morale, Relationships, and Wages: An Experimental Study," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145662, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Cottini, Elena & Kato, Takao & Westergaard-Nielsen, Niels, 2011. "Adverse workplace conditions, high-involvement work practices and labor turnover: Evidence from Danish linked employer–employee data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 872-880.
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    11. Johnsen, Åshild A. & Kvaløy, Ola, 2016. "Does strategic kindness crowd out prosocial behavior?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 1-11.
    12. Cecilia Navarra & Ermanno Tortia, 2014. "Employer Moral Hazard, Wage Rigidity, and Worker Cooperatives: A Theoretical Appraisal," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(3), pages 707-726.
    13. Riener, Gerhard & Wiederhold, Simon, 2016. "Team building and hidden costs of control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-18.
    14. Jared Rubin & Roman Sheremeta, 2016. "Principal–Agent Settings with Random Shocks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(4), pages 985-999, April.
    15. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2016. "Bonus Culture: Competitive Pay, Screening, and Multitasking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(2), pages 305-370.
    16. Sliwka, Dirk & Werner, Peter, 2016. "How Do Agents React to Dynamic Wage Increases? An Experimental Study," IZA Discussion Papers 9855, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Florian Englmaier & Stephen G. Leider, 2012. "Managerial Payoff and Gift Exchange in the Field," CESifo Working Paper Series 3707, CESifo Group Munich.
    18. Tatiana Iwai, 2016. "The Interaction of Formal and Informal Contracts in the Decision of Cooperation of the Agents," Brazilian Business Review, Fucape Business School, vol. 13(1), pages 47-68, January.
    19. Fahn, Matthias & Schade, Anne & Schüßler, Katharina, 2017. "Gift exchange vs. repeated interaction as a source of reciprocal behavior," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168150, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    20. Jed DeVaro & Antti Kauhanen, 2016. "An “Opposing Responses” Test of Classic versus Market-Based Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 747-779.
    21. Englmaier, Florian & Schüßler, Katharina, 2015. "Complementarities of HRM Practices," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 503, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    22. Florian Englmaier & Katharina Schüßler, 2015. "Complementarities of HRM Practices - A Case for Employing Multiple Methods and Integrating Multiple Fields," CESifo Working Paper Series 5249, CESifo Group Munich.
    23. Camerer, Colin & Dreber, Anna & Forsell, Eskil & Ho, Teck-Hua & Huber, Jurgen & Johannesson, Magnus & Kirchler, Michael & Almenberg, Johan & Altmejd, Adam & Chan, Taizan & Heikensten, Emma & Holzmeist, 2016. "Evaluating replicability of laboratory experiments in Economics," MPRA Paper 75461, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    24. Ingvild Almås & Alexander W. Cappelen & Bertil Tungodden, 2016. "Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans more Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6278, CESifo Group Munich.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Job design; high-performance work systems; screening; reputation; competition; trust; control; social preferences; complementarities; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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