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Motivation crowding-out: Is there a risk for science?


  • Julien Pénin


Performance related pay is playing an increasing role in scientific research. This development, which applies the results of standard economic theories (the principal-agent model), aims at increasing incentives and thus productivity in science. The objective of this paper is then to cross the works of various economic fields, including those in economics of science and those on the theories of individual motivation, in order to explore the consequences of this development on scientists’ incentives and to focus on its possible "perverse effects". Two key elements emerge from our literature review: firstly, the motivations of researchers are complex and multiple and do not depend solely on their salary level; secondly, the literature on the theories of incentives identifies a risk that increasing monetary incentives, paradoxically, reduce the overall level of staff motivation, especially when there exist other sources of motivation (as is usually the case in science). According to this literature there may therefore exist a "hidden cost" to financially reward scientists. These teachings lead us to construct empirically testable propositions about the implications of performance related pay in science and the conditions of emergence of a motivation crowding-out effect.

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  • Julien Pénin, 2012. "Motivation crowding-out: Is there a risk for science?," Working Papers of BETA 2012-13, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  • Handle: RePEc:ulp:sbbeta:2012-13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-555, March.
    2. Meixing Dai, 2016. "Static And Dynamic Effects Of Central Bank Transparency," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 55-78, January.
    3. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2004. "Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal-Agent Model," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 453-474, October.
    4. Claudia Curi & Cinzia Daraio & Patrick Llerena, 2012. "University technology transfer: how (in)efficient are French universities?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 629-654.
    5. Olivier Cardi & Romain Restout, 2014. "Unanticipated vs. Anticipated Tax Reforms in a Two-Sector Open Economy," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 373-406, April.
    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. James M. Poterba & Kim S. Rueben, 1994. "The Distribution of Public Sector Wage Premia: New Evidence Using Quantile Regression Methods," NBER Working Papers 4734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cardi, Olivier & Restout, Romain, 2015. "Fiscal Shocks In A Two-Sector Open Economy With Endogenous Markups," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(08), pages 1839-1865, December.
    2. Ragip Ege & Herrade Igersheim & Charlotte Le Chapelain, 2012. "Transcendental vs. Comparative Approaches to Justice : A Reappraisal of Sen’s Dichotomy," Working Papers of BETA 2012-15, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.

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    science; merit pay; university; motivation crowding-out; research; incentives.;

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