IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/snb/snbwpa/2008-07.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Competition and Relational Contracts: The Role of Unemployment as a Disciplinary Device

Author

Listed:
  • Martin Brown
  • Armin Falk
  • Ernst Fehr

Abstract

When unemployment prevails, relations with a particular firm are valuable for workers. As a consequence, a worker may adhere to an implicit agreement to provide high effort, even when performance is no third-party enforceable. But can implicit agreements - or relational contracts - also motivate high worker performance when the labor market is tight? We examine this question by implementing an experimental market in which there is an excess demand for labor and the performance of workers is not third-party enforceable. We show that relational contracts emerge in which firms reward performing workers with wages that exceed the going market rate. This motivates workers to provide high effort, even though they could shirk and switch firms. Our results thus suggest that unemployment is not a necessary device to motivate workers. We also discuss how market conditions affect relational contracting by comparing identical labor markets with excess supply and excess demand for labor. Long-term relationships turn out to be less frequent when there is excess demand for labor compared to a market characterized by unemployment. Surprisingly though, this does not compromise market performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2008. "Competition and Relational Contracts: The Role of Unemployment as a Disciplinary Device," Working Papers 2008-07, Swiss National Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:snb:snbwpa:2008-07
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.snb.ch/n/mmr/reference/working_paper_2008_07/source/working_paper_2008_07.n.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2004. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 747-780, May.
    2. Urs Fischbacher & Simon G�chter, 2005. "Heterogeneous social preferences and the dynamics of free riding in public goods," IEW - Working Papers 261, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    3. Roe, Brian E. & Wu, Steven Y., 2009. "Do the Selfish Mimic Cooperators? Experimental Evidence from Finitely-Repeated Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 4084, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Flabbi, Luca & Ichino, Andrea, 2001. "Productivity, seniority and wages: new evidence from personnel data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 359-387, June.
    5. James L. Medoff & Katharine G. Abraham, 1980. "Experience, Performance, and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 95(4), pages 703-736.
    6. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    7. Peter AUER & Sandrine CAZES, 2000. "The resilience of the long-term employment relationship: Evidence from the industrialized countries," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 139(4), pages 379-408, December.
    8. Hoyt Bleakley & Ann E. Ferris & Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1999. "New data on worker flows during business cycles," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 49-76.
    9. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
    10. Steffen Huck & Andrew J. Seltzer & Brian Wallace, 2011. "Deferred Compensation in Multiperiod Labor Contracts: An Experimental Test of Lazear's Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 819-843, April.
    11. Wu, Steven Y. & Roe, Brian E., 2007. "Discretionary Latitude and Relational Contracting," IZA Discussion Papers 2879, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. James Andreoni & Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2003. "What Do Bargainers' Preferences Look Like? Experiments with a Convex Ultimatum Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 672-685, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Martin Brown & Marta Serra-Garcia, 2017. "The Threat of Exclusion and Implicit Contracting," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(12), pages 4081-4100, December.
    2. Sliwka, Dirk & Werner, Peter, 2016. "How Do Agents React to Dynamic Wage Increases? An Experimental Study," IZA Discussion Papers 9855, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Brown, M. & Serra Garcia, M., 2010. "Relational Contracting Under the Threat of Expropriation – Experimental Evidence," Discussion Paper 2010-85, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. Armin Falk & David Huffman & W. Bentley Macleod, 2015. "Institutions and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(3), pages 571-590.
    5. John G. Sessions & John D. Skåtun, 2017. "Performance-Related Pay, Efficiency Wages and the Shape of the Tenure-Earnings Profile," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 85(3), pages 295-319, June.
    6. John S. Heywood & Uwe Jirjahn, 2016. "The hiring and employment of older workers in Germany: a comparative perspective [Die Beschäftigung und Neueinstellung älterer Arbeitnehmer in Deutschland: Eine vergleichende Perspektive]," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 49(4), pages 349-366, December.
    7. Roe, Brian E. & Wu, Steven Y., 2009. "Do the Selfish Mimic Cooperators? Experimental Evidence from Finitely-Repeated Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 4084, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Schieffer, Jack & Wu, Steven Y., 2010. "Naughty or nice? Punishment and the interaction of formal and informal incentives in long-term contractual relationships," MPRA Paper 20891, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Brown, M. & Serra Garcia, M., 2010. "Relational Contracting Under the Threat of Expropriation – Experimental Evidence," Other publications TiSEM 2a3179b3-7300-4aee-a62f-7, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    10. Brown, Martin & Serra-Garcia, Marta, 2011. "The Threat of Exclusion and Relational Contracting," Discussion Papers in Economics 12287, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    11. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2018. "Hidden action and outcome contractibility: An experimental test of moral hazard theory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 544-564.
    12. Cox, Caleb A., 2013. "Inequity aversion and advantage seeking with asymmetric competition," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 121-136.
    13. Raszap Skorbiansky, Sharon, 2018. "Investing in communication: An experimental study of communication in a relational contract setting," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 85-96.
    14. Bernard, Mark & Fanning, Jack & Yuksel, Sevgi, 2018. "Finding cooperators: Sorting through repeated interaction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 76-94.
    15. James Bland & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2013. "Tacit Coordination in Games with Third-Party Externalities," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    16. Robert S. Gibbons & Manuel Grieder & Holger Herz & Christian Zehnder, 2019. "Building an Equilibrium: Rules Versus Principles in Relational Contracts," CESifo Working Paper Series 7871, CESifo.
    17. Amrei Lahno & Marta Serra-Garcia, 2015. "Peer effects in risk taking: Envy or conformity?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 73-95, February.
    18. Johannes Abeler & Felix Marklein, 2017. "Fungibility, Labels, and Consumption," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 99-127.
    19. Ghidoni, Riccardo & Suetens, Sigrid, 2019. "Empirical Evidence on Repeated Sequential Games," Other publications TiSEM ff3a441f-e196-4e45-ba59-c, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    20. Ambrus, Attila & Pathak, Parag A., 2011. "Cooperation over finite horizons: A theory and experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 500-512.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    relational contracts; involuntary unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:snb:snbwpa:2008-07. 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: (Enzo Rossi). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/snbgvch.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.