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Interpersonal Comparison, Status and Ambition in Organisations

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  • Andrea Patacconi
  • Florian Ederer
  • MIT

Abstract

This paper argues that the prevalence of compensation systems which reward winners without explicitly identifying losers can be rationalized by workers` concern for relative payoffs. If the workers` participation constraints are binding, the firm must compensate its employees for the disutility that they may derive from low status. It follows that profit-maximizing employers may be particularly reluctant to penalize or give poor performance evaluation to employees. The theory also sheds light on many other puzzling features of incentive schemes in practice, such as small salary premia, rat races, job title proliferation, the gender wage gap, the gender/happiness paradox and the widespread use of tournaments as a sorting device.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Patacconi & Florian Ederer & MIT, 2005. "Interpersonal Comparison, Status and Ambition in Organisations," Economics Series Working Papers 222, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:222
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Dur & Jan Tichem, 2012. "Social Relations and Relational Incentives," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-054/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Bjørnskov, Christian & Dreher, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V. & Schnellenbach, Jan & Gehring, Kai, 2013. "Inequality and happiness: When perceived social mobility and economic reality do not match," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 75-92.
    3. Verbeke, Willem & Bagozzi, Richard P. & Belschak, Frank D., 2016. "The role of status and leadership style in sales contests: A natural field experiment," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 4112-4120.
    4. Sophie Hennekam & Subramaniam Ananthram, 2020. "Involuntary and voluntary demotion: employee reactions and outcomes," Post-Print hal-03232764, HAL.
    5. van Praag, Mirjam C., 2009. "Who Values the Status of the Entrepreneur?," IZA Discussion Papers 4245, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Dessi, Roberta & Miquel-Florensa, Josepa, 2013. "When to Pay More: Incentives, Culture and Status in Principal‐ Agent Interactions," TSE Working Papers 13-413, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    7. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
    8. Chai, Junyi, 2021. "A model of ambition, aspiration and happiness," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 288(2), pages 692-702.
    9. van Dalen, H.P. & Henkens, K., 2015. "Why Demotion of Older Workers is a No-Go Area for Managers," Discussion Paper 2015-025, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    10. Ludwig, Sandra & Lünser, Gabriele K., 2012. "Observing your competitor – The role of effort information in two-stage tournaments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 166-182.
    11. Gürtler, Marc & Gürtler, Oliver, 2012. "Inequality aversion and externalities," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 111-117.
    12. Jeroen Nieboer, 2022. "Positional enhancement in effort-based social comparisons," Discussion Papers 2022-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    13. Michael Kosfeld & Susanne Neckermann, 2011. "Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 86-99, August.
    14. 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.
    15. Bruno S. Frey, 2010. "Geld oder Anerkennung? Zur Ökonomik der Auszeichnungen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11(1), pages 1-15, February.
    16. Marino, Anthony M. & Ozbas, Oguzhan, 2014. "Disclosure of status in an agency setting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 191-207.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Reference-Dependent Preferences; Status; Ambition; Expectations; Tournaments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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