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Scapegoats and Optimal Allocation of Responsibility

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  • Eyal Winter

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Abstract

We consider a model of hierarchical organizations in which agents have the option of reducing the probability of failure by investing towards their decisions. A mechanism specifies a distribution of sanctions in case of failure across the levels of the hierarchy. It is said to be investment-inducing if it induces all agents to invest in equilibrium. It is said to be optimal if it does so at minimal total punishment. We characterize optimal investment-inducing mechanisms in several versions of our benchmark model. In particular we refer to the problem of allocating individuals with diverse qualifications to different levels of the hierarchy as well as allocating tasks of different importance across different hierarchy levels. We also address the issue of incentive-optimal hierarchy architectures.

Suggested Citation

  • Eyal Winter, 2001. "Scapegoats and Optimal Allocation of Responsibility," Discussion Paper Series dp266, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  • Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp266
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    Cited by:

    1. Guillermo Ordonez, 2005. "Don't Ask Why Things Went Wrong: Nested Reputation and Scapegoating Inefficiency," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000988, David K. Levine.
    2. Patrick W. Schmitz, 2005. "Allocating Control in Agency Problems with Limited Liability and Sequential Hidden Actions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(2), pages 318-336, Summer.
    3. Patrick W. Schmitz, 2005. "Should Contractual Clauses that Forbid Renegotiation Always be Enforced?," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(2), pages 315-329, October.
    4. Mordechai E. Schwarz, 2020. "A Master of Two Servants: The Effect of Separation of Powers on Public Accountability and Social Welfare," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 10612466, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.

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