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Screening, competition, and job design: Economic origins of good jobs


  • Bartling, Björn
  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Schmidt, Klaus M.


High-performance work systems give workers more discretion, thereby increasing effort productivity but also shirking opportunities. We show experimentally that screening for work attitude and labor market competition are causal determinants of the viability of high-performance work systems, and we identify the complementarities between discretion, rent-sharing, and screening that render them profitable. Two fundamentally distinct job designs emerge endogenously in our experiments: \"bad\" jobs with low discretion, low wages, and little rent-sharing, and \"good\" jobs with high discretion, high wages, and substantial rent-sharing. Good jobs are profitable only if employees can be screened, and labor market competition fosters their dissemination.

Suggested Citation

  • Bartling, Björn & Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2012. "Screening, competition, and job design: Economic origins of good jobs," Munich Reprints in Economics 20128, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20128

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Englmaier, Florian & Strasser, Sebastian & Winter, Joachim, 2014. "Worker characteristics and wage differentials: Evidence from a gift-exchange experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 185-203.
    3. Benndorf, Volker & Rau, Holger A., 2012. "Competition in the workplace: An experimental investigation," DICE Discussion Papers 53, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
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    5. Oyer, Paul & Schaefer, Scott, 2011. "Personnel Economics: Hiring and Incentives," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    6. Sliwka, Dirk & Werner, Peter, 2016. "How Do Agents React to Dynamic Wage Increases? An Experimental Study," IZA Discussion Papers 9855, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    8. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2016. "Bonus Culture: Competitive Pay, Screening, and Multitasking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(2), pages 305-370.
    9. Fahn, Matthias & Schade, Anne & Schüßler, Katharina, 2017. "Gift exchange vs. repeated interaction as a source of reciprocal behavior," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168150, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Riener, Gerhard & Wiederhold, Simon, 2016. "Team building and hidden costs of control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-18.
    11. Jed DeVaro & Antti Kauhanen, 2016. "An “Opposing Responses” Test of Classic versus Market-Based Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 747-779.
    12. Lea Cassar, 2014. "Optimal contracting with endogenous project mission," ECON - Working Papers 150, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Oct 2014.
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    15. Cecilia Navarra & Ermanno Tortia, 2014. "Employer Moral Hazard, Wage Rigidity, and Worker Cooperatives: A Theoretical Appraisal," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(3), pages 707-726.
    16. Lea Cassar, 2014. "Job mission as a substitute for monetary incentives: experimental evidence," ECON - Working Papers 177, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    17. Ingvild Almås & Alexander W. Cappelen & Bertil Tungodden, 2016. "Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans more Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6278, CESifo Group Munich.
    18. Matteo Ploner & Katrin Schmelz & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2010. "Hidden Costs of Control: Three Repetitions and an Extension," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-007, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    19. Anthony Ziegelmeyer & Katrin Schmelz & Matteo Ploner, 2012. "Hidden costs of control: four repetitions and an extension," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(2), pages 323-340, June.
    20. Ines Läufer, 2014. "Das Krankenversicherungssystem in den USA: Bestimmungsparameter des Angebots und der Ausgestaltungformen von Arbeitgeber-Gruppenversicherungen," Otto-Wolff-Institut Discussion Paper Series 03/2014, Otto-Wolff-Institut für Wirtschaftsordnung, Köln, Deutschland.
    21. Englmaier, Florian & Segal, Carmit, 2016. "Morale, Relationships, and Wages: An Experimental Study," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145662, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    22. Cottini, Elena & Kato, Takao & Westergaard-Nielsen, Niels, 2011. "Adverse workplace conditions, high-involvement work practices and labor turnover: Evidence from Danish linked employer–employee data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 872-880.
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    24. Florian Englmaier & Stephen G. Leider, 2012. "Managerial Payoff and Gift Exchange in the Field," CESifo Working Paper Series 3707, CESifo Group Munich.
    25. Camerer, Colin & Dreber, Anna & Forsell, Eskil & Ho, Teck-Hua & Huber, Jurgen & Johannesson, Magnus & Kirchler, Michael & Almenberg, Johan & Altmejd, Adam & Chan, Taizan & Heikensten, Emma & Holzmeist, 2016. "Evaluating replicability of laboratory experiments in Economics," MPRA Paper 75461, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law


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