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Incentives, Decision Frames, and Motivation Crowding Out – An Experimental Investigation

Author

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  • Irlenbusch, Bernd

    () (University of Cologne)

  • Sliwka, Dirk

    () (University of Cologne)

Abstract

A simple principal agent problem is experimentally investigated in which a principal repeatedly sets a wage and an agent responds by choosing an effort level. The principal's payoff is determined by the agent's effort. In a first setting the principal can only set a fixed wage in each period. In a second setting the principal has the possibility to supplement the fixed wage with a piece rate. Surprisingly, efforts are lower in the case where piece rates can be paid. Furthermore, switching in the same treatment from a setting where piece rates are available to one where only fixed wages can be paid tends to lead to even lower effort levels. Based on our findings we suggest a new explanation for motivation crowding out by arguing that the use of piece rates considerably alters the principals' and agents' perception of the situation.

Suggested Citation

  • Irlenbusch, Bernd & Sliwka, Dirk, 2005. "Incentives, Decision Frames, and Motivation Crowding Out – An Experimental Investigation," IZA Discussion Papers 1758, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1758
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "The interaction between explicit and relational incentives: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 573-594.
    2. Agnès Festré & Pierre Garrouste, 2015. "Theory And Evidence In Psychology And Economics About Motivation Crowding Out: A Possible Convergence?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(2), pages 339-356, April.
    3. Bowles, Samuel & Hwang, Sung-Ha, 2008. "Social preferences and public economics: Mechanism design when social preferences depend on incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1811-1820, August.
    4. Michel Marechal & Christian Thoni, 2007. "Do managers reciprocate? Field experimental evidence from a competitive market," Natural Field Experiments 00310, The Field Experiments Website.
    5. Danilov, Anastasia & Sliwka, Dirk, 2013. "Can Contracts Signal Social Norms? Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 7477, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polania-Reyes, 2011. "Economic incentives and social preferences: substitutes or complements?," Department of Economics University of Siena 617, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    7. Kocher, Martin G. & Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Sutter, Matthias, 2012. "Testing a forgotten aspect of Akerlof’s gift exchange hypothesis: Relational contracts with individual and uniform wages," Discussion Papers in Economics 12816, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    8. Hoeppner Sven & Kirchner Christian, 2016. "Ex ante versus Ex post Governance: A Behavioral Perspective," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 227-259, July.
    9. Bruno S. Frey & Margit Osterloh, "undated". "Yes, Managers Should be Paid Like Bureaucrats," IEW - Working Papers 187, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    10. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
    11. Sliwka, Dirk, 2003. "On the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," IZA Discussion Papers 844, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. repec:eee:soceco:v:72:y:2018:i:c:p:86-94 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Caleb Cox & Matthew Jones & Kevin Pflum & Paul Healy, 2015. "Revealed reputations in the finitely repeated prisoners’ dilemma," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 58(3), pages 441-484, April.
    14. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Ruchala, Gabriele K., 2008. "Relative rewards within team-based compensation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 141-167, April.
    15. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Ruchala, Gabriele K., 2006. "Relative Rewards within Team-Based Compensation," IZA Discussion Papers 2423, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polanía Reyes, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: A preference-Based Lucas Critique of Public Policy," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2009-11, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    17. Harbring, Christine & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2008. "How many winners are good to have?: On tournaments with sabotage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 682-702, March.
    18. Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polanía Reyes, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: A Preference-based Lucas Critique of Public Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 2734, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    incentives; crowding-out; reciprocity; reputation; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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