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Friends or Foes? Optimal Incentives for Reciprocal Agents

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  • Luca Livio

Abstract

Widely used performance-based contracts put (positive or negative) externalities on co-workers. These externalities have been proven to shape an organization’s working climate especially when workers exhibit social preferences. However, it is a priori unclear whether a more friendly or a more competitive working environment should be encouraged. In this paper I consider a theoretical model in which a self-interested principal has to motivate a set of agents. Agents are symmetric, potentially risk-averse and exhibit reciprocity concerns towards each other. The optimal incentive scheme is derived solving a psychological game with asymmetric information about effort choices. I show that the optimal incentive design depends on the interplay between the agents’ attitudes towards risks and their preferences for reciprocity. In particular, the optimal scheme implements (i) a relative performance compensation scheme which induces an exchange of unkindness if agents are relatively little risk averse and (ii) a joint performance compensation scheme which induces an exchange of kindness if agents are sufficiently risk averse. My findings can explain some puzzling empirical results.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Livio, 2018. "Friends or Foes? Optimal Incentives for Reciprocal Agents," Working Papers ECARES 2018-03, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/265328
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    Cited by:

    1. Roberto Sarkisian, 2017. "Team Incentives under Moral and Altruistic Preferences: Which Team to Choose?," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(3), pages 1-24, September.
    2. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2020. "Belief-Dependent Motivations and Psychological Game Theory," CESifo Working Paper Series 8285, CESifo.
    3. Roberto Sarkisian, 2021. "Optimal Incentives Schemes under Homo Moralis Preferences," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, March.
    4. Sarkisian, Roberto, 2017. "Team Incentives under Moral and Altruistic Preferences: Which Team to Choose?," TSE Working Papers 17-838, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gift Exchange; Group Production; Incentives; Moral Hazard; Reciprocity; Team; Tournament;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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