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Fairness and Contract Design

Author

Listed:
  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Klein, Alexander
  • Schmidt, Klaus M.

Abstract

We show experimentally that fairness concerns may have a decisive impact on the actual and optimal choice of contracts in a moral hazard context. Bonus contracts that offer a voluntary and unenforceable bonus for satisfactory performance provide powerful incentives and are superior to explicit incentive contracts when there are some fair-minded players. But trust contracts that pay a generous wage upfront are less efficient than incentive contracts. The principals understand this and predominantly choose the bonus contracts. Our results are consistent with recently developed theories of fairness, which offer important new insights into the interaction of contract choices, fairness and incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and Contract Design," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 67, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:67
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Moral Hazard; Incentives; Bonus Contract; Trust Contract; Fairness; Inequity Aversion;

    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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