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Competition and the Ratchet Effect

Listed author(s):
  • Gary Charness

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Peter Kuhn

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    ()

    (GATE, University of Lyon, CNRS, ENS-LSH, Centre Léon Bérard, France)

The ‘ratchet effect’ refers to a situation where a principal uses private information that is revealed by an agent’s early actions to the agent’s later disadvantage, in a context where binding multi-period contracts are not enforceable. In a simple, context-rich environment, we experimentally study the robustness of the ratchet effect to the introduction of ex post competition for principals or agents. While we do observe substantial and significant ratchet effects in the baseline (no competition) case of our model, we find that ratchet behavior is nearly eliminated by labor-market competition; interestingly this is true regardless of whether market conditions favor principals or agents.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.gate.cnrs.fr/RePEc/2008/0828.pdf
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Paper provided by Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon in its series Working Papers with number 0828.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:0828
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  1. Kanemoto, Yoshitsugu & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1992. "The Ratchet Effect and the Market for Secondhand Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(1), pages 85-98, January.
  2. Antonio Cabrales & Gary Charness & Marie Claire Villeval, 2006. "Competition, Hidden Information and Efficiency: An Experiment," Post-Print halshs-00175051, HAL.
  3. Chaudhuri, Ananish, 1998. "The ratchet principle in a principal agent game with unknown costs: an experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, November.
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  9. Roland, Gerard & Sekkat, Khalid, 2000. "Managerial career concerns, privatization and restructuring in transition economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(10), pages 1857-1872, December.
  10. Carmichael, H Lorne & MacLeod, W Bentley, 2000. "Worker Cooperation and the Ratchet Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 1-19, January.
  11. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2004. "Do Labour Market Conditions Affect Gift Exchange? Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 684-708, July.
  12. Choi, Jay Pil & Thum, Marcel, 2003. "The dynamics of corruption with the ratchet effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 427-443, March.
  13. Peter Kuhn & Fernando Lozano, 2008. "The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours among U.S. Men, 1979-2006," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 311-343, April.
  14. S. Bucovetsky, 2003. "Efficient Migration and Income Tax Competition," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 5(2), pages 249-278, April.
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  17. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.
  18. Dearden, James & Ickes, Barry W & Samuelson, Larry, 1990. "To Innovate or Not to Innovate: Incentives and Innovation in Hierarchies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1105-1124, December.
  19. David Cooper & John Kagel & Qing Liang Gu & Wei Lo, 1999. "Gaming against managers in incentive systems: Experimental results with chinese students and chinese managers," Artefactual Field Experiments 00038, The Field Experiments Website.
  20. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  21. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part I: Comparing Information Structures," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 183-198.
  22. Dillen, Mats & Lundholm, Michael, 1996. "Dynamic income taxation, redistribution, and the ratchet effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 69-93, January.
  23. Dalen, Dag Morten, 1995. "Efficiency-improving investment and the ratchet effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1511-1522, October.
  24. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
  25. Puller, Steven L., 2006. "The strategic use of innovation to influence regulatory standards," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 690-706, November.
  26. Allen, Douglas W. & Lueck, Dean, 1999. "Searching For Ratchet Effects In Agricultural Contracts," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(02), December.
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