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How Ego-threats Facilitate Contracts Based on Subjective Evaluations

Author

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  • Alexander Sebald

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Markus Walzl

    (Department of Economics, University of Maastricht)

Abstract

We show that individuals’ desire to protect their self-esteem against ego-threatening feedback can mitigate moral hazard in environments with purely subjective performance evaluations. In line with evidence from social psychology we assume that agents’ react aggressively to evaluations by the principal which do not coincide with their own positive self-perceptions and thereby generate costs of conflict for the principal. We identify conditions for a positive welfare effect of increasing costs of conflict or increasing sensitivity to ego-threats, and a negative welfare effect of a more informative information technology. As a consequence, principals may choose imperfect information technologies in equilibrium even if the signal quality is costless.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Sebald & Markus Walzl, 2008. "How Ego-threats Facilitate Contracts Based on Subjective Evaluations," Discussion Papers 08-19, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0819
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/2008/0819.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
    2. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    3. Bentley W. MacLeod, 2003. "Optimal Contracting with Subjective Evaluation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 216-240, March.
    4. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    5. Sebald, Alexander, 2007. "Procedural Concerns," MPRA Paper 4508, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
    7. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    8. Malcomson, James M, 1984. "Work Incentives, Hierarchy, and Internal Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 486-507, June.
    9. Botond Köszegi, 2006. "Ego Utility, Overconfidence, and Task Choice," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(4), pages 673-707, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    contracts; Subjective evaluations; self-esteem; ego-threats;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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