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Incentives Beyond the Money: Identity and Motivational Capital in Public Organizations



This paper explores optimality of contracts and incentives when the principal (public organisation) can undertake investments to change agents’ (public workers) identity. In the model, workers within the organisation can have different identities. We develop a principal-agent dynamical model with moral hazard, which captures the possibility of affecting this workers’ identity through contracts offered by the firm. In the model, identity is a motivation source which reduces agents’ isutility from effort. We use the term identity to refer to a situation in which the worker shares the organisational objectives and views herself as a part of the organisation. Contrary, we use the term conflict to refer to a ituation in which workers behave self-interested and frequently in the opposite way of the organisation. We assume that identity can be achieved when principal include mission-sense developing investments in contracts. By mission we mean a single culture that is shared by all the members of an organization. We discuss the conditions under which spending resources in changing workers’ identity and invest in this kind of motivational capital is optimal for organisations. Our results may help to inform public firms’ managers about the optimal design of incentive schemes and policies. For instance, we conclude that investing in motivational capital is the best option in the long run whereas pure monetary incentives works better in the short run.

Suggested Citation

  • Mikel Berdud & Juan M. Cabasés & Jorge Nieto, 2012. "Incentives Beyond the Money: Identity and Motivational Capital in Public Organizations," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 1214, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.
  • Handle: RePEc:nav:ecupna:1214

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rafael Rob & Peter Zemsky, 2002. "Social Capital, Corporate Culture, and Incentive Intensity," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(2), pages 243-257, Summer.
    2. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Mueller, Hannes, 2011. "Thanks for nothing? Not-for-profits and motivated agents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1-2), pages 94-105, February.
    3. Jean Tirole, 1996. "A Theory of Collective Reputations (with applications to the persistence of corruption and to firm quality)," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(1), pages 1-22.
    4. Denis Gromb, 2007. "Cultural Inertia and Uniformity in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 743-771, October.
    5. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
    6. Carrillo, Juan D. & Gromb, Denis, 1999. "On the strength of corporate cultures," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 1021-1037, April.
    7. Sen, Amartya, 1985. "Goals, Commitment, and Identity," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 341-355, Fall.
    8. Avinash Dixit, 2002. "# Incentives and Organizations in the Public Sector: An Interpretative Review," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 696-727.
    9. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part I: Comparing Information Structures," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 183-198.
    10. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217.
    11. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2004. "Incentives and Workers’ Motivation in the Public Sector," CESifo Working Paper Series 1223, CESifo Group Munich.
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    More about this item


    contracts; moral hazard; identity; socialization; mission; motivational capital.;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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