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Cooperation in knowledge-intensive firms

  • Kvaløy, Ola


    (Norwegian School of Hotel Management, Dept. of Business Administration, University of Stavanger)

  • Olsen, Trond E.


    (Dept. of Finance and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

The extent to which a knowledge-intensive firm should induce cooperation between its employees is analyzed in a model of relational contracting between a firm (principal) and its employees (two agents). The agents can cooperate by helping each other, i.e. provide effort that increases the performance of their peer without affecting their own performance. We extend the existing literature on agent-cooperation by analyzing the implications of incomplete contracts and agent hold-up. A main result is that if the agents' hold-up power is sufficiently high, then it is suboptimal for the principal to implement cooperation, even if helping effort is productive per se. This implies, contrary to many property rights models, that social surplus may suffer if the investing parties (here the agents) are residual claimants. The model also shows that long-term relationships facilitate cooperation even if the agents cannot monitor or punish each others effort choices.

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Paper provided by Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 2007/27.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 30 Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhhfms:2007_027
Contact details of provider: Postal: NHH, Department of Business and Management Science, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 55 95 92 93
Fax: +47 55 95 96 50
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  1. Kvaløy, Ola & Olsen, Trond E., 2005. "Team Incentives in Relational Employment Contracts," Discussion Papers 2005/7, Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics.
  2. Kvaløy, Ola & Olsen, Trond E., 2007. "Relative Performance Evaluation, Agent Hold-Up and Firm Organization," Discussion Papers 2007/26, Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics.
  3. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
  4. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
  5. Junichiro Ishida, 2006. "Team Incentives under Relative Performance Evaluation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 187-206, 03.
  6. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  7. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
  8. Drago, Robert & Turnbull, Geoffrey K., 1991. "Competition and cooperation in the workplace," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 347-364, May.
  9. John S. Heywood & Uwe Jirjahn & Georgi Tsertsvadze, 2005. "Getting along with Colleagues - Does Profit Sharing Help or Hurt?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 557-573, November.
  10. Ola Kvaløy & Trond E. Olsen, 2012. "The Rise of Individual Performance Pay," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 493-518, 06.
  11. Anke S. Kessler & Christoph Lülfesmann, 2002. "The Theory of Human Capital Revisited: On the Interaction of General and Specific Investments," CESifo Working Paper Series 776, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. FitzRoy, Felix R. & Kraft, Kornelius, 1995. "On the choice of incentives in firms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 145-160, January.
  13. repec:bla:restud:v:53:y:1986:i:1:p:43-57 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  15. Emmanuelle Auriol & Guido Friebel & Lambros Pechlivanos, 2002. "Career Concerns in Teams," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 289-307, Part.
  16. Che,Y.K. & Yoo,S.W., 1998. "Optimal incentives for teams," Working papers 8, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  17. Erling Barth & Bernt Bratsberg & Torbjørn Hægeland & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2008. "Who pays for performance?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 8-29, May.
  18. Itoh, Hideshi, 1992. "Cooperation in Hierarchical Organizations: An Incentive Perspective," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 321-45, April.
  19. Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-36, May.
  20. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  21. Ramakrishnan, Ram T S & Thakor, Anjan V, 1991. "Cooperation versus Competition in Agency," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 248-83, Fall.
  22. Macho-Stadler, I. & Perez-Castrillo, J.D., 1991. "Moral Hazard with Several Agents: The Gains From Cooperation," DELTA Working Papers 91-26, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  23. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
  24. Richard Blundell & Lorraine Dearden & Costas Meghir & Barbara Sianesi, 1999. "Human capital investment: the returns from education and training to the individual, the firm and the economy," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 20(1), pages 1-23, March.
  25. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  26. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  27. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:1075-1103 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Maija Halonen, 2002. "Reputation And The Allocation Of Ownership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 539-558, July.
  29. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:39-84 is not listed on IDEAS
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