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Recursive Contracts, Firm Longevity, and Rat Races: Theory and Experimental Evidence

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Listed:
  • Peter Bardsley
  • Nisvan Erkal
  • Nikos Nikiforakis
  • Tom Wilkening

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between firm longevity and rat races in an environment where long-lived firms are operated by overlapping generations of short-lived players. We first present a complete information model in which workers in the young generation are offered employment contracts designed by the firms' owners who belong to the old generation. When old, employed workers are granted ownnership rights as long as the firm continues to operate. We test the theoretical predictions of the model in a laboratory experiment. In line with our model's predictions, as firm longevity increases, the recursive nature of the contracts leads to a rat race characterized by low wages, high effort levels, and rent dissipation

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Bardsley & Nisvan Erkal & Nikos Nikiforakis & Tom Wilkening, 2011. "Recursive Contracts, Firm Longevity, and Rat Races: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1122, The University of Melbourne, revised 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1122
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Overlapping-generations models; Recursive contracts; Rat races; Experiments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing

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