We study low-powered incentives in a model that captures important features of workplaces in which incentive-pay approaches are minimally relevant. Our motivation is that incentive pay, while not rare, is clearly far less common than are agency problems: many firms with agency problems nonetheless pay fixed compensation and offer continued employment to all but those workers judged "unsatisfactory" according to largely subjective criteria. We find that low-powered incentives can achieve efficient outcomes in simple workplaces and function surprisingly well even when the environment is characterized by unobservable performance heterogeneity and a high degree of complementarity among workers.
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