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When to Pay More: Incentives, Culture and Status in Principal‐ Agent Interactions

  • Dessi, Roberta
  • Miquel-Florensa, Josepa

We study the role of status in an experimental Principal-Agent game.Status is awarded to subjects based on either talent or luck. In each randomly matched principal-agent pair, the principal chooses the agent's status-contingent piece rate for a task in which talent matters for performance (an IQ test). We perform the experiment in Cambridge (UK) and in HCMV (Vietnam). We find that in Cambridge piece rate others are significantly higher for high-status agents (only) when status signals talent. However, these higher offers are not payoff-maximizing for the principals.In contrast, Vietnam piece rate offers are significantly higher for high-status agents (only) when status is determined by luck. We explore possible explanations, and the implications for status and incentives.

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Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 13-413.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:27275
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  1. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2008. "Status incentives," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 5913, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2006. "Contests For Status," Working Papers 0604, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
  3. Emmanuelle Auriol & Régis Renault, 2008. "Status and incentives," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(1), pages 305-326.
  4. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Gary Charness & David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2010. "Competitive Preferences and Status as an Incentive: Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-00497974, HAL.
  6. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  7. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status In Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188, February.
  8. Andrea Patacconi & Florian Ederer, 2005. "Interpersonal Comparison, Status and Ambition in Organisations," Economics Series Working Papers 222, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Lise Vesterlund & Cagri Kumru, 2005. "The Effects of Status on Voluntary Contribution," Working Papers 266, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2005.
  10. Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "The social basis of interdependent preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 779-800, May.
  11. Michael Kosfeld & Susanne Neckermann, 2011. "Getting More Work for Nothing? Symbolic Awards and Worker Performance," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 86-99, August.
  12. Ball, Sheryl & Eckel, Catherine C., 1998. "The economic value of status," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 495-514.
  13. Falk, Armin & Zehnder, Christian, 2013. "A city-wide experiment on trust discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 15-27.
  14. Weiss, Y. & Fershtman, C., 1997. "Social Status and Economic Performance: A Survey," Papers 19-97, Tel Aviv.
  15. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
  16. Catherine Eckel & Rick Wilson, 2007. "Social learning in coordination games: does status matter?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 317-329, September.
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