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Labor-Market Conditions and Leadership Styles

Author

Listed:
  • Dur, Robert

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Kvaløy, Ola

    (University of Stavanger)

  • Schöttner, Anja

    (University of Bonn)

Abstract

Why do some leaders use praise as a means to motivate workers, while other leaders use social punishment? This paper develops a simple economic model to examine how leadership styles depend on the prevailing labor-market conditions for workers. We show that the existence of a binding wage floor for workers (e.g., due to trade union wage bargaining, minimum-wage legislation, or limited-liability protection) can make it attractive for firms to hire a leader who makes use of social punishment. While the use of social punishments generally is socially inefficient, it lessens the need for high bonus pay, which allows the firm to extract rents from the worker. In contrast, firms hire leaders who provide praise to workers only if it is socially efficient to do so. Credible use of leadership styles requires either repeated interaction or a leader with the right social preferences. Only moderately altruistic leaders offer praise, whereas only moderately spiteful leaders employ social punishment. Lastly, we show that when the leaders' and workers' reservation utilities give rise to a bigger income gap between leaders and workers, attracting spiteful leaders becomes relatively less costly and unfriendly leadership becomes more prevalent.

Suggested Citation

  • Dur, Robert & Kvaløy, Ola & Schöttner, Anja, 2020. "Labor-Market Conditions and Leadership Styles," IZA Discussion Papers 13860, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13860
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; motivation; incentives; leadership styles; labor-market conditions; wage-setting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • M5 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics

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