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Incentives in Basic Research

  • Edward P. Lazear

Individuals involved in basic research, like other workers, respond to incentives. Funding agencies provide implicit incentives when they specify the rules by which awards are made. The following analysis is an exercise in understanding incentives at an applied level. Specific rules are examined and analyzed to determine their incentive effects. For example, what is the effect of rewarding past effort? What happens when a few large awards are replaced by many small awards? How does the timing of an award affect effort? How does an agency choose which topics to fund? After having mapped out the responses of researchers to rules, socially optimal rules are derived. Research incentive issues have private business analogues, and the extension to the operation of the firm is discussed briefly.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5444.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5444.

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Date of creation: Jan 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 15, no. 1, part 2 (January 1997): S167-S197.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5444
Note: LS
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  1. Jonathan S. Leonard, 1990. "Executive pay and firm performance," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 13-29, February.
  2. O'Keeffe, Mary & Viscusi, W Kip & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1984. "Economic Contests: Comparative Reward Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 27-56, January.
  3. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1981. "Dynamic games of innovation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 21-41, August.
  4. Loury, Glenn C, 1979. "Market Structure and Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 395-410, August.
  5. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  6. Green, Jerry R & Stokey, Nancy L, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 349-64, June.
  7. John M. Abowd, 1990. "Does performance-based managerial compensation affect corporate performance?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 52-73, February.
  8. Sah, Raaj Kumar & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1986. "The Architecture of Economic Systems: Hierarchies and Polyarchies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 716-27, September.
  9. Baker, George P, 1992. "Incentive Contracts and Performance Measurement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 598-614, June.
  10. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
  11. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1983. "The Agent-Agents Problem: Payment by Relative Output," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 50-65, January.
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