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Competition and the Ratchet Effect

  • Gary Charness

    ()

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

  • Peter Kuhn

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

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines)

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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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00333590.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Publication status: Published, Journal of Labor Economics, 2011, 29, 3, pp. 513-547
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00333590
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00333590
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  1. Barry W. Ickes & Larry Samuelson, 1987. "Job Transfers and Incentives in Complex Organizations: Thwarting the Ratchet Effect," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 275-286, Summer.
  2. Lemieux, Thomas & MacLeod, W. Bentley & Parent, Daniel, 2007. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2850, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Antonio Cabrales & Gary Charness & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2006. "Competition, Hidden Information and Efficiency: An Experiment," Post-Print halshs-00175051, HAL.
  4. 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, 04.
  5. 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.
  6. Dearden, J. & Ickes, B.W. & Samuelson, L., 1988. "To Innovate Or Not To Innovate: Incentives And Innovation In Hierarchies," Papers 0-88-1, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  7. Freixas, Xavier & Guesnerie, Roger & Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Planning under Incomplete Information and the Ratchet Effect," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 173-91, April.
  8. Charness, Gary B & Cabrales, Antonio & VILLEVAL, MARIE-CLAIRE, 2007. "Competition, Hidden Information, And Efficiency: An Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3kp5v19m, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  9. Jay Pil Choi & Marcel Thum, 2000. "The Dynamics of Corruption with the Ratchet Effect," CESifo Working Paper Series 334, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Roland, Gérard & Sekkat, Khalid, 1996. "Managerial Career Concerns, Privatization and Restructuring in Transition Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 1363, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Antonio Cabrales & Gary Charness, 2006. "Competition, Hidden information, and Efficiency: an Experiment," Post-Print halshs-00142849, HAL.
  12. Dillen, M. & Lundholm, M., 1992. "Dynamic Income Taxation, Redistribution, and the Ratchet Effect," Papers 1992-3, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  13. 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.
  14. Dalen, Dag Morten, 1995. "Efficiency-improving investment and the ratchet effect," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1511-1522, October.
  15. Macleod, W.B. & Kenemoto, Y., 1990. "The Ratchet Effect and the Market for Second-Hand Workers," Cahiers de recherche 9027, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  16. 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, 07.
  17. 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, 04.
  18. 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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