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Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents? Experimentation vs. Career Concerns

Author

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  • Ben Lockwood
  • Eric Le Borgne

Abstract

This paper studies a principal-agent model of the relationship between an incumbent officeholder and the electorate, where the officeholder is initially uninformed about her ability. If officeholder effort and ability interact in the "production function" that determines performance in office, then an officeholder has an incentive to experiment-that is, raise effort so that performance becomes a more accurate signal of her ability. Elections reduce the experimentation effect, and the reduction in this effect may more than offset the positive "career-concerns" effect of elections on effort. Moreover, when this occurs, appointment of officeholders may Pareto-dominate elections.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Lockwood & Eric Le Borgne, 2003. "Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents? Experimentation vs. Career Concerns," IMF Working Papers 03/57, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:03/57
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    2. Mirman, Leonard J & Samuelson, Larry & Urbano, Amparo, 1993. "Monopoly Experimentation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(3), pages 549-563, August.
    3. Dhillon, Amrita & Lockwood, Ben, 2004. "When are plurality rule voting games dominance-solvable?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 55-75, January.
    4. Gibbons, Robert & Waldman, Michael, 1999. "Careers in organizations: Theory and evidence," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 36, pages 2373-2437 Elsevier.
    5. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217.
    6. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    7. le Borgne, E. & Lockwood, B., 2000. "Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 580, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    8. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Otto Swank & Bauke Visser, 2006. "Do elections lead to informed public decisions?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 435-460, December.
    2. Phongthorn Wrasai, 2005. "Politicians' Motivation, Role of Elections, and Policy Choices," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-050/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    3. Alexander K. Koch & Albrecht Morgenstern & Philippe Raab, 2004. "An experimental test of career concerns," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 04/31, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Nov 2004.
    4. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Eric Le Borgne, 2005. "The politics of central bank independence: a theory of pandering and learning in government," Staff Reports 205, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    5. Eric Le Borgne & Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2007. "Dynamic Incentives and the Optimal Delegation of Political Power," IMF Working Papers 07/91, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Koch, Alexander K. & Morgenstern, Albrecht & Raab, Philippe, 2004. "An Experimental Test of Career Concerns," IZA Discussion Papers 1405, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Eric Le Borgne, 2010. "A Political Agency Theory of Central Bank Independence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(4), pages 647-677, June.

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