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Adding a Stick to the Carrot? The Interaction of Bonuses and Fines

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  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Schmidt, Klaus M.

Abstract

In this paper we report on a principal-agent experiment where the principal can choose whether to rely on an unenforcable bonus contract or to combine the bonus contract with a fine if the agent’s effort falls below a minimum standard. We show that most principals do not use the fine and that the pure bonus contract is more efficient than the combined contract. Our experiment suggests that principals who are less fair are more likely to choose a combined contract and less likely to actually pay the announced bonus. This offers a new explanation for why explicit and implicit incentives are substitutes rather than complements.

Suggested Citation

  • Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2007. "Adding a Stick to the Carrot? The Interaction of Bonuses and Fines," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 197, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:197
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000. "A Fine is a Price," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
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    5. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M Schmidt, 2007. "Fairness and Contract Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 121-154, January.
    6. Bruno S. Frey, 1997. "Not Just for the Money," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 1183.
    7. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
    8. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Nature, Nature, vol. 422(6928), pages 137-140, March.
    9. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives-Trust and Trustworthiness Among CEOs," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 743-771, September.
    10. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2001. "Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
    11. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
    12. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "The interaction between explicit and relational incentives: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 573-594.
    2. Sääksvuori, Lauri, 2013. "Voluntary formation of centralized sanctioning institutions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 150-159.
    3. Cunyat, Antoni & Sloof, Randolph, 2011. "Employee types and endogenous organizational design: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 553-573.
    4. Biener, Christian & Eling, Martin & Landmann, Andreas & Pradhan, Shailee, 2018. "Can group incentives alleviate moral hazard? The role of pro-social preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 230-249.
    5. Boosey, Luke & Goerg, Sebastian, 2020. "The timing of discretionary bonuses – effort, signals, and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 254-280.
    6. Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
    7. Andrei Bremzen & Elena Khokhlova & Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2015. "Bad News: An Experimental Study on the Informational Effects Of Rewards," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(1), pages 55-70, March.
    8. Tetlock, Philip E. & Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Patil, Shefali V. & Grant, Adam M., 2013. "Accountability and ideology: When left looks right and right looks left," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 22-35.
    9. Golman, Russell & Bhatia, Sudeep, 2012. "Performance evaluation inflation and compression," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 534-543.
    10. Maria Bigoni & Giancarlo Spagnolo & Paola Valbonesi, 2010. "Sticks and Carrots in Procurement," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0105, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    11. Oosterbeek, Hessel & Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "Rent-seeking versus productive activities in a multi-task experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 630-643, June.
    12. Nikiforakis, Nikos & Oechssler, Jörg & Shah, Anwar, 2019. "Managerial bonuses and subordinate mistreatment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 509-525.
    13. Herold, Florian, 2010. "Contractual incompleteness as a signal of trust," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 180-191, January.
    14. Flynn, Sean Masaki & Donnelly, Michael, 2012. "Does labor contract completeness drive unionization? Experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 445-454.
    15. Pyddoke, Roger, 2020. "Penalties as incentives for punctuality and regularity in tendered Swedish public transport," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    moral hazard; bonus contract; implicit incentives; fairness; incentives;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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