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Performance Pay and Multi-dimensional Sorting: Productivity, Preferences and Gender

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  • Dohmen, Thomas

    () (University of Bonn and IZA)

  • Falk, Armin

    () (briq, University of Bonn)

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of incentives on worker self-selection in a controlled laboratory experiment. In a first step we elicit subjects' productivity levels. Subjects then face the choice between a fixed or a variable payment scheme. Depending on the treatment, the variable payment is either a piece rate, a tournament or a revenue-sharing scheme. We elicit additional individual characteristics such as subjects’ risk attitudes, measures of self-assessment and overconfidence, social preferences, gender and personality. We also elicit self-reported measures of work effort, stress and exhaustion. Our main findings are as follows. First, output is much higher in the variable pay schemes (piece rate, tournament, and revenue sharing) compared to the fixed payment scheme. Second, this difference is largely driven by productivity sorting. On average, the more productive a worker is, the more likely he self-selects into the variable pay scheme. Third, relative self-assessment and overconfidence affect worker self-selection, in particular into tournaments. Fourth, risk averse workers prefer fixed payments and are less likely to sort into variable pay schemes. Fifth, people endowed with social preferences are less likely to sort into tournaments. Sixth, variable pay schemes attract men more than women, a difference that is partly explained by gender-specific risk attitudes. Seventh, self-selection is also affected by personality differences. Finally, reported effort is significantly higher in all variable pay conditions than in the fixed wage condition. In sum, our findings underline the importance of multi-dimensional sorting, i.e., the tendency for different incentive schemes to systematically attract people with different abilities, preferences, self-assessments, gender and personalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin, 2006. "Performance Pay and Multi-dimensional Sorting: Productivity, Preferences and Gender," IZA Discussion Papers 2001, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    overconfidence; risk preferences; personnel economics; sorting; incentives; ability; productivity; piece rates; tournament; revenue sharing; gender; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • M55 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Contracting Devices
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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