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Competition and the Ratchet Effect

Author

Listed:
  • Gary Charness
  • Peter Kuhn
  • Marie-Claire Villeval

Abstract

In labor markets, the ratchet effect refers to a situation where workers subject to performance pay choose to restrict their output, because they rationally anticipate that firms will respond to higher output levels by raising output requirements or cutting pay. We model this effect as a multi-period principal-agent problem with hidden information, and study its robustness to labor market competition both theoretically and experimentally. Consistent with our theoretical model, we observe substantial ratchet effects in the absence of competition, which is nearly eliminated when competition is introduced; this is true regardless of whether market conditions favor firms or workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2010. "Competition and the Ratchet Effect," NBER Working Papers 16325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16325
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John S. Heywood & Uwe Jirjahn, 2014. "Variable Pay, Industrial Relations and Foreign Ownership: Evidence from Germany," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(3), pages 521-552, September.
    2. Antonio Cabrales & Gary Charness & Marie Villeval, 2011. "Hidden information, bargaining power, and efficiency: an experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(2), pages 133-159, May.
    3. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Non, Arjan & Verbeke, Willem, 2014. "Dynamic incentive effects of relative performance pay: A field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 1-13.
    4. Cardella, Eric & Depew, Briggs, 2016. "Testing for the Ratchet Effect: Evidence from a Real-Effort Work Task," IZA Discussion Papers 9981, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Alberto Bayo-Moriones & Jose E. Galdon-Sanchez & Sara Martinez-de-Morentin, 2017. "Performance Measurement and Incentive Intensity," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 38(4), pages 496-546, December.
    6. Socha, Karolina, 2014. "Mixed reimbursement of hospitals: Securing high activity and global expenditures control?," COHERE Working Paper 2014:3, University of Southern Denmark, COHERE - Centre of Health Economics Research.
    7. Ottorino Chillemi & Benedetto Gui & Lorenzo Rocco, 2013. "The value of information disclosure under local learning. The case of fixed types," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0161, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    8. repec:eee:gamebe:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:182-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Uwe Jirjahn, 2016. "Works Councils and Employer Attitudes toward the Incentive Effects of HRM Practices," Research Papers in Economics 2016-07, University of Trier, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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