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Agency and Anxiety

Author

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  • Michael T. Rauh

    (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)

  • Giulio Seccia

    (Department of Economics, University of Southampton)

Abstract

In this paper, we introduce the psychological concept of anxiety into agency theory. An important benchmark in the anxiety literature is the inverted-U hypothesis which states that an increase in anxiety improves performance when anxiety is low but reduces it when anxiety is high. We consider a version of the Holmstrom-Milgrom linear principal-agent model where the agent conforms to the inverted-U hypothesis and investigate the nature of the optimal linear contract. We find that although high-powered incentives can be demotivational, a profit-maximizing principal never offers them. In contrast, the principal may optimally engage in a demotivational level of monitoring. Moreover, since risk can be motivational, the principal may refrain from eliminating it even when monitoring is costless. Indeed, the principal may even add pure noise to the contract in order to motivate the agent, contradicting the informativeness principle. Finally, incentives and monitoring can be strategic substitutes or complements in our model.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael T. Rauh & Giulio Seccia, 2006. "Agency and Anxiety," Working Papers 2006-02, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2006-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    5. Michael T. Rauh & Giulio Seccia, 2006. "Anxiety And Performance: An Endogenous Learning-By-Doing Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(2), pages 583-609, May.
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    11. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-1277, November.
    12. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    13. Barkema, Harry G, 1995. "Do Top Managers Work Harder When They Are Monitored?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 19-42.
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    JEL classification:

    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General

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