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Labor Contracts, Gift-Exchange and Reference Wages: Your Gift Need Not Be Mine!

Author

Listed:
  • Hernán Bejarano

    (CIDE - Centro de inversitgacion y docencia economicas)

  • Brice Corgnet

    (EM - EMLyon Business School, GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon - Saint-Etienne - ENS de Lyon - École normale supérieure de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Étienne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Joaquín Gómez-Miñambres

    (Chapman University)

Abstract

We extend Akerlof's (1982) gift-exchange model to the case in which reference wages respond to changes in the work environment such as those related to unemployment benefits or workers' productivity levels. Our model shows that these changes spur disagreements between workers and employers regarding the value of the reference wage. These disagreements tend to weaken the gift-exchange relationship thus reducing production levels and wages. We find support for these predictions in a controlled, yet realistic, workplace environment. Our work also sheds light on several stylized facts regarding employment relationships such as the increased intensity of labor conflicts when economic conditions are unstable.

Suggested Citation

  • Hernán Bejarano & Brice Corgnet & Joaquín Gómez-Miñambres, 2019. "Labor Contracts, Gift-Exchange and Reference Wages: Your Gift Need Not Be Mine!," Working Papers halshs-02368016, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-02368016
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-02368016
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gift-exchange; incentives; self-serving biases; reference-dependent utility; laboratory experiments; labor conflicts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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