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Hidden Costs of Control: Three Repetitions and an Extension

  • Matteo Ploner

    ()

    (University of Trento, Department of Economics, Computable and Experimental Economics Laboratory)

  • Katrin Schmelz

    ()

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group, Jena)

  • Anthony Ziegelmeyer

    ()

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group, Jena)

We report three repetitions of Falk and Kosfeld's (2006) low and medium control treatments with 364 subjects. Each repetition employs a sample drawn from a standard subject pool of students and demographics vary across samples. Our results largely conflict with those of the original study. We mainly observe hidden costs of control of low magnitude that lead to low-trust principal-agent relationships. Our subjects were asked, at the end of the experimental session, to complete a questionnaire in which they had to state their work motivation in hypothetical scenarios. Our questionnaires are identical to the ones administered in Falk and Kosfeld's (2006) questionnaire study. In contrast to the game play data, our questionnaire data are similar to those of the original questionnaire study. In an attempt to solve this puzzle, we report an extension with 228 subjects where performance-contingent earnings are absent i.e. both principals and agents are paid according to a flat participation fee. We observe that hidden costs outweigh benefits of control which shows that control aversion is more prevalent under hypothetical than under real incentives. Still, in the low control treatment, we observe much weaker negative responses to control in our extension than in the original study. This observation, the fact that the original study uses real incentives, and preliminary findings on the relationship between demographics and the degree of control aversion lead us to conclude that Falk and Kosfeld's (2006) experimental regularities originate from the characteristics of their subjects.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2010-007.

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Date of creation: 18 Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2010-007
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  1. Wendelin Schnedler & Radovan Vadovic, 2011. "Legitimacy of Control," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(4), pages 985-1009, December.
  2. Bjorn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2012. "Screening, Competition, and Job Design: Economic Origins of Good Jobs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 834-64, April.
  3. Dickinson, David L. & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2004. "Does Monitoring Decrease Work Effort? The Complementarity Between Agency and Crowding-Out Theories," IZA Discussion Papers 1222, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Marco Faravelli, 2006. "How Context Matters: A Survey Based Experiment on Distributive Justice," ESE Discussion Papers 145, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  5. Armin Falk & Michael Kosfeld, . "The Hidden Costs of Control," IEW - Working Papers 250, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  7. Gary E. Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 2006. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1906-1911, December.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Michael Naef & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2006. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1912-1917, December.
  9. Bandiera, Oriana & Barankay, Iwan & Rasul, Imran, 2006. "Incentives for Managers and Inequality Among Workers: Evidence from a Firm Level Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2062, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  12. Edward P. Lazear, 1996. "Performance Pay and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Barkema, Harry G, 1995. "Do Top Managers Work Harder When They Are Monitored?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 19-42.
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