Contracts with Wishful Thinkers
Managers with anticipatory emotions have higher current utility if they are optimistic about the future. We study an employment contract between an (endogenously) optimistic manager and realistic investors. The manager faces a trade-off between ensuring that the chosen levels of effort reflect accurate news and savoring emotionally beneficial good news. We show that optimism may exacerbate incentive problems. Specifically, investors and manager agree over the optimal news recall when the manager's weight on anticipatory utility is low. For intermediate values, there is a conflict of interest and investors bear an extra-cost to have the manager recalling bad news. For high weights on anticipatory utility, investors become indifferent between inducing signal recollection or not, and a pooling equilibrium obtains, reminiscent of adverse selection models. We then extend the analysis to the case in which the parameter capturing anticipatory utility is the manager's private information. Last, we derive interesting testable predictions on the relationship between personality traits, managerial compensation and hiring policies.In a setting with a wishful thinking agent and a realistic principal, the paper studies how incentive contracts should be designed to control for both moral hazard and self-deception. The properties of the contract that reconciles the agent with reality depend on the weight the agent attaches to anticipatory utility. When this is small, principal and agent agree on full recollection. For intermediate values the principal bears an extra cost to make the agent recall bad news. For large weights the principal renounces inducing signal recollection. We extend the analysis to the case in which the parameter of anticipatory utility is private information. The distinction between the two settings assumes practical relevance if preferences can be related to personality characteristics as in this case the parameter of anticipatory utility could be learned through psychological testing.
|Date of creation:||15 Sep 2010|
|Date of revision:||28 Oct 2012|
|Publication status:||forthcoming in Journal of Economics & Management Strategy|
|Note:||A previous version has been circulated under the title “Optimal Compensation Contracts for Optimistic Managers.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: I-80126 Napoli|
Phone: +39 081 - 675372
Fax: +39 081 - 675372
Web page: http://www.csef.it/
More information through EDIRC
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:258. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lia Ambrosio)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.