The Impact of Risk Aversion and Stress on the Incentive Effect of Performance Pay
We demonstrate that effectiveness of performance-contingent incentives is inversely related to individual risk-aversion levels through two mechanisms: 1) rational optimizing decisions about the amount of effort to supply when effort is positively correlated with risk exposure and 2) the possibly choke-inducing stress accompanying financial uncertainty. In two laboratory studies using real-effort tasks, we find a significant inverse relationship between productivity improvement under performance pay and risk-aversion levels. Moreover, we show that both mechanisms help explain this result. For about 25% of participants, performance actually deteriorates under performance pay, and the probability of such deterioration increases with risk aversion and stress.
|Date of creation:||2009|
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