Layoffs as Part of an Optimal Incentive Mix: Theory and Evidence
Firms offer highly complex contracts to their employees. These contracts contain a mix of incentives, such as fixed wages, bonus payments, promotion options, and layoff threats. In general, economists understand how incentives motivate employees but not why a particular mix should be used. In this paper we present a model in which the observed incentive mix is an optimal contract. In particular, we show that it can be optimal for firms to combine cost-efficient incentives such as promotions and bonuses with layoffs. The intuition is that layoffs play a dual role. First, they create incentives for the employees. Second, they contribute to sorting and selection. In the empirical part of the paper we test the model’s basic assumption about employee sorting and selection together with its broader predictions about employee careers. Using personnel records from a large international pharmaceutical company, we find that the model’s predictions are consistent with the data.
|Date of creation:||Nov 2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as 'Promotions, Dismissals and Employee Selection: Theory and Evidence' in: Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, 2011, 27(1). 159-179|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
|Order Information:|| Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany|
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Baker, G.P. & Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988.
"Compensation And Incentives: Practice Vs. Theory,"
88-05, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
- Henry S. Farber & Robert Gibbons, 1994.
"Learning and Wage Dynamics,"
707, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
- James L. Medoff & Katharine G. Abraham, 1981. "Are Those Paid More Really More Productive? The Case of Experience," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 16(2), pages 186-216.
- Ferrall, Christopher & Shearer, Bruce, 1999. "Incentives and Transactions Costs within the Firm: Estimating an Agency Model Using Payroll Records," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 309-38, April.
- Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1994.
"Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-56, November.
- George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1993. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," NBER Working Papers 4480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bentley W. MacLeod, 2003.
"Optimal Contracting with Subjective Evaluation,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 216-240, March.
- Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Wage Policy of a Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 921-55, November.
- Edward P. Lazear, 1996.
"Performance Pay and Productivity,"
NBER Working Papers
5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gibbons, Robert & Waldman, Michael, 1999. "Careers in organizations: Theory and evidence," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 36, pages 2373-2437 Elsevier.
- Medoff, James L & Abraham, Katharine G, 1980.
"Experience, Performance, and Earnings,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 703-36, December.
- Gibbs, Michael, 1995. "Incentive compensation in a corporate hierarchy," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 247-277, April.
- W. Bentley MacLeod & James Malcomson, 1997.
"Motivation and Markets,"
Boston College Working Papers in Economics
339., Boston College Department of Economics.
- MacLeod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1997. "Motivation and markets," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9720, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
- Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979.
"Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts,"
NBER Working Papers
0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Robert Gibbons & Michael Waldman, 1999. "A Theory Of Wage And Promotion Dynamics Inside Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1321-1358, November.
- Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
- Michael Waldman, 1984.
"Job Assignments, Signalling, and Efficiency,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 255-267, Summer.
- Calvo, Guillermo A & Wellisz, Stanislaw, 1979. "Hierarchy, Ability, and Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 991-1010, October.
- Guasch, J Luis & Weiss, Andrew, 1980. "Wages as Sorting Mechanisms in Competitive Markets with Asymmetric Information: A Theory of Testing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 653-64, July.
- Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2447. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.