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Employee Crime, Monitoring, and the Efficiency Wage Hypothesis

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  • William T. Dickens
  • Lawrence F. Katz
  • Kevin Lang
  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

This paper offers some observations on employee crime, economic theories of crime, limits on bonding, and the efficiency wage hypothesis. We demonstrate that the simplest economic theories of crime predict that profit-maximizing firms should follow strategies of minimal monitoring and large penalties for employee crime. Finding overwhelming empirical evidence that firms expend considerable resources trying to detect employee malfeasance and do not impose extremely large penalties, we investigate a number of possible reasons why the simple model's predictions fail. It turns out that plausible explanations for firms large outlays on monitoring of employees also justify the payment of premium wages in some circumstances. There is no legitimate a priori argument that firms should not pay efficiency wages once it is recognized that they expend significant resources on monitoring.

Suggested Citation

  • William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin Lang & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Employee Crime, Monitoring, and the Efficiency Wage Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 2356, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2356
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-620, September.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Eaton, Curtis & White, William D, 1983. "The Economy of High Wages: An Agency Problem," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(198), pages 175-181, May.
    4. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
    5. Bulow, Jeremy I & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy,Discrimination, and Keynesian Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 376-414, July.
    6. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    7. Calvo, Guillermo, 1979. "Quasi-Walrasian Theories of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 102-107, May.
    8. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-1059, October.
    9. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1987. "Inter-Industry Wage Differences and Theories of Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 2271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Leigh, J. Paul, 1985. "The effects of unemployment and the business cycle on absenteeism," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 159-170, May.
    12. Alan B. Krueger & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Reflections on the Inter-Industry Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 1968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Malcomson, James M, 1984. "Work Incentives, Hierarchy, and Internal Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 486-507, June.
    14. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    15. Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-891, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. William T. Dickens & Kevin Lang, 1992. "Labor Market Segmentation Theory: Reconsidering the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. George A. Akerlof & Lawrence F. Katz, 1989. "Workers' Trust Funds and the Logic of Wage Profiles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(3), pages 525-536.
    3. P. K. Edwards, 1992. "Industrial Conflict: Themes and Issues in Recent Research," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 30(3), pages 361-404, September.

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