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Motivating Workers through Task Assignment: A Dynamic Model of Up-and-Down Competition for Status

Author

Listed:
  • Julianna M. Butler

    () (Department of Economics, University of Delaware)

  • Scott M. Gilpatric

    () (Department of Economics, University of Tennessee)

  • Christian A. Vossler

    () (Department of Economics, University of Tennessee)

Abstract

We show how competition for status that conveys explicit benefits can motivate effort in organizations such as schools, public agencies, and unionized firms in the absence of monetary incentives or intrinsically motivated workers. We develop an indefinitely-repeated labor market tournament model in which high-status agents may be rewarded either monetarily or with favorable task assignment. If monetary incentives are unavailable and the principal relies on task assignment this entails an efficiency cost relative to the benchmark case with monetary incentives. Our model offers a new perspective on the value to an employer of flexibility over job assignments within labor contracts.

Suggested Citation

  • Julianna M. Butler & Scott M. Gilpatric & Christian A. Vossler, 2017. "Motivating Workers through Task Assignment: A Dynamic Model of Up-and-Down Competition for Status," Working Papers 2017-03, University of Tennessee, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ten:wpaper:2017-03
    as

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    File URL: http://web.utk.edu/~jhollad3/RePEc/2017-03.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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 841-864, October.
    2. Landsberger, Michael & Meilijson, Isaac, 1982. "Incentive generating state dependent penalty system : The case of income tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 333-352, December.
    3. Gilpatric, Scott M. & Vossler, Christian A. & Liu, Lirong, 2015. "Using competition to stimulate regulatory compliance: A tournament-based dynamic targeting mechanism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 182-196.
    4. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Contests for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 338-363.
    5. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-715, September.
    6. Harrington, Winston, 1988. "Enforcement leverage when penalties are restricted," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 29-53, October.
    7. Canice Prendergast, 2007. "The Motivation and Bias of Bureaucrats," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 180-196, March.
    8. Kräkel, Matthias & Schöttner, Anja, 2012. "Internal labor markets and worker rents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 491-509.
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    10. Liu, Lirong & Neilson, William, 2013. "Enforcement Leverage with Fixed Inspection Capacity," Strategic Behavior and the Environment, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 305-328, August.
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    12. Carolyn J. Heinrich & Gerald Marschke, 2010. "Incentives and their dynamics in public sector performance management systems," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(1), pages 183-208.
    13. Harford, Jon D. & Harrington, Winston, 1991. "A reconsideration of enforcement leverage when penalties are restricted," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 391-395, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    task assignment; status; dynamic tournament; non-wage compensation;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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