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Competitive incentives: working harder or working smarter?

  • Anat Bracha
  • Chaim Fershtman

Almost all jobs require a combination of cognitive effort and labor effort. This paper focuses on the effect that competitive incentive schemes have on the chosen combination of these two types of efforts. We use an experimental approach to show that competitive incentives may induce agents to work harder but not necessarily smarter. This effect was stronger for women.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 12-12.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:12-12
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  1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  2. Kocker, Martin G. & Lenz, Marc V. & Sutter, Matthias, 2010. "Psychological pressure in competitive environments: Evidence from a randomized natural experiment: Comment," Working Papers in Economics 439, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  3. Dreber, Anna & Johannesson, Magnus, 2008. "Gender differences in deception," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 197-199, April.
  4. Uri Gneezy & Stephan Meier & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2011. "When and Why Incentives (Don't) Work to Modify Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
  5. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  6. Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2009. "Outrunning the Gender Gap – Boys and Girls Compete Equally," SIFR Research Report Series 69, Institute for Financial Research.
  7. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2008. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," NBER Working Papers 13727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  9. Booth, Alison L & Nolen, Patrick, 2009. "Choosing to Compete: How different are girls and boys?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7214, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1988. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," NBER Working Papers 2638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  12. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Forecasting Risk Attitudes: An Experimental Study Using Actual and Forecast Gamble Choices," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-01, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  13. Lazear, Edward P, 2000. "The Future of Personnel Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages F611-39, November.
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