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Group vs. Individual Performance Pay When Workers Are Envious


  • Dominique Demougin
  • Claude Fluet


We consider the effects on reward systems of workers' concern with relative pay by comparing the wage costs of providing incentives through group versus individual bonus schemes. When workers have a propensity for envy, either scheme may be the least cost one depending on the workers' outside opportunities and on the precision of available performance measures. The result follows from the trade-off between the dissatisfaction associated with the prospect of unequal pay and the incentives it generates when workers are envious.

Suggested Citation

  • Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2003. "Group vs. Individual Performance Pay When Workers Are Envious," Cahiers de recherche 0318, CIRPEE.
  • Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0318

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
    2. Baker, George P & Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1988. " Compensation and Incentives: Practice vs. Theory," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(3), pages 593-616, July.
    3. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    4. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    5. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-580, June.
    6. Mui, Vai-Lam, 1995. "The economics of envy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 311-336, May.
    7. Demougin, Dominique & Fluet, Claude, 2001. "Monitoring versus incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1741-1764, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Björn Bartling & Ferdinand A. von Siemens, 2010. "Equal Sharing Rules in Partnerships," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 166(2), pages 299-320, June.
    2. Robert Dur & Amihai Glazer, 2004. "Optimal Incentive Contracts For a Worker Who Envies His Boss," CESifo Working Paper Series 1282, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Bartling, Björn & von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2010. "The intensity of incentives in firms and markets: Moral hazard with envious agents," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 598-607, June.
    4. Abeler, Johannes & Altmann, Steffen & Kube, Sebastian & Wibral, Matthias, 2006. "Reciprocity and Payment Schemes: When Equality Is Unfair," IZA Discussion Papers 2500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Bartling, Björn, 2011. "Relative performance or team evaluation? Optimal contracts for other-regarding agents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 183-193, August.
    6. Gill, David & Stone, Rebecca, 2015. "Desert and inequity aversion in teams," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 42-54.
    7. De Marco Giuseppe & Immordino Giovanni, 2014. "Reciprocity in the Principal–Multiple Agent Model," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-38, January.
    8. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet & Carsten Helm, 2006. "Output and wages with inequality averse agents," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(2), pages 399-413, May.
    9. Grund, Christian & Przemeck, Judith, 2008. "Subjective Performance Evaluation and Inequality Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 3382, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Küpper, Hans-Ulrich & Sandner, Kai, 2008. "Differences in Social Preferences - Are They Profitable for the Firm?," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 2122, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    11. Kragl, Jenny & Schmid, Julia, 2009. "The impact of envy on relational employment contracts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 766-779, November.
    12. Bartling, Björn, 2004. "The Role of Investment Banks in IPOs and Incentives in Firms: Essays in Financial and Behavioral Economics," Munich Dissertations in Economics 2642, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Bonus; efficiency wage; envy; fairness; incentives; moral hazard; performance measure; pay equality; wage compression;

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets

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