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Why are Small Firms Different? Managers' Views

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Do incentives in small organizations differ from those in large ones? This paper uses a representative survey of compensation managers to shed light on the issues. I find that (i) small establishments rely less on pecuniary incentives, and have a significantly more hostile attitude towards incentive schemes based on competition and relative rewards; (ii) large units are more vulnerable to mechanisms of efficiency wages, effects that remain even as I control for differences in monitoring ability; (iii) large units are more prone to indicate that negative reciprocity is important, and that their employees care about relative pay. I argue that these findings fit with behavioral stories of incentives and motivation, in particular those stressing group interaction effects, inequity aversion and gift exchange.

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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2003:9.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 25 Aug 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2003_0009
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Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

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Fax: +46 8 16 14 25
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  12. Agell, Jonas & Bennmarker, Helge, 2002. "Wage Policy and Endogenous Wage Rigidity: A Representative View from the Inside," Research Papers in Economics 2002:12, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  13. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  14. Oi, Walter Y. & Idson, Todd L., 1999. "Firm size and wages," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 33, pages 2165-2214 Elsevier.
  15. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
  16. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1995. " Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(2), pages 295-307, June.
  17. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Susan Helper, 2000. "Economists and Field Research: "You Can Observe a Lot Just by Watching."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 228-232, May.
  19. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-59, October.
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  23. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
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