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An Experimental Test of Career Concerns

  • Koch, Alexander K.


    (Aarhus University)

  • Morgenstern, Albrecht


    (Federal Ministry of Finance)

  • Raab, Philippe


    (Allianz Insurance Group)

Holmström’s (1982/99) career concerns model has become an important workhorse for the analysis of agency issues in many fields. The underlying signal jamming argument requires players to use information in a Bayesian way – which may or may not reasonably approximate real-life decision makers’ behavior. Testing this theory with field data is difficult since typically little is known about the information that individuals base their decisions on, and this explains the dearth of empirical studies. We provide experimental evidence that the signal jamming mechanism works in a laboratory setting. Moreover, subjects' beliefs fit remarkably well requirements imposed by the Bayesian equilibrium concept.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1405.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization , 2009, 72 (1), 571-588
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1405
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  1. Murphy, K.J. & Gibbons, R., 1990. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns : Theory and Evidence," Papers 90-09, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  2. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Sliwka, Dirk, 2006. "Career concerns in a simple experimental labour market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 147-170, January.
  3. Mirman, L.J. & Samuelson, L. & Schlee, E.E., 1991. "Strategic Information Manupulation in Duopolies," Papers 9137, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  4. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Price competition and market concentration: an experimental study," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 7-22, January.
  5. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  6. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  7. Simon Gaechter & Armin Falk, . "Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," IEW - Working Papers 019, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Borland, Jeff, 1992. " Career Concerns: Incentives and Endogenous Learning in Labour Markets," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 251-70.
  9. Susanne Lohmann, 1998. "Rationalizing the Political Business Cycle: A Workhorse Model," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 1-17, 03.
  10. Ben Lockwood & Eric Le Borgne, 2003. "Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents? Experimentation vs. Career Concerns," IMF Working Papers 03/57, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Fehr, Ernst, et al, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-51, April.
  12. David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 2003. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Labor and Demography 0305001, EconWPA.
  14. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2004. "Do Labour Market Conditions Affect Gift Exchange? Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 684-708, 07.
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