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Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting - Productivity, Preferences and Gender

  • Dohmen, Thomas
  • Falk, Armin

This paper studies the impact of incentives on worker self-selection in a controlled laboratory experiment. Subjects face the choice between a fixed and a variable payment scheme. Depending on the treatment, the variable payment is a piece rate, a tournament or a revenue-sharing scheme. We find that output is higher in the variable pay schemes (piece rate, tournament, and revenue sharing) compared to the fixed payment scheme. This difference is largely driven by productivity sorting. In addition personal attitudes such as willingness to take risks and relative self-assessment as well as gender affect the sorting decision in a systematic way. Moreover, self-reported effort is significantly higher in all variable pay conditions than in the fixed wage condition. Our lab findings are supported by an additional analysis using data from a large and representative sample. In sum, our findings underline the importance of multi-dimensional sorting, i.e., the tendency for different incentive schemes to systematically attract people with different individual characteristics.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 360.

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Date of creation: May 2011
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:360
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  1. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1998. "Motivation and Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 388-411, June.
  2. Macleod, W.B. & Kenemoto, Y., 1990. "The Ratchet Effect and the Market for Second-Hand Workers," Cahiers de recherche 9027, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
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  11. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 1730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  28. Bohnet, Iris & Kubler, Dorothea, 2005. "Compensating the cooperators: is sorting in the prisoner's dilemma possible?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-76, January.
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  30. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
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