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Performance pay and multi-dimensional sorting - Productivity, preferences and gender

  • Dohmen T.J.
  • Falk A.

    (METEOR)

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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File URL: http://pub.maastrichtuniversity.nl/f23949a1-a5b8-4aa8-89b0-528fb0d92c3b
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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR) in its series Research Memorandum with number 012.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:unm:umamet:2010012
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  1. Claudia Goldin, 1985. "Monitoring Costs and Occupational Segregation by Sex: An Historical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 1560, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daniel Parent, 1997. "Methods of Pay and Earnings: A Longitudinal Analysis," CIRANO Working Papers 97s-14, CIRANO.
  3. Macleod, W.B. & Kenemoto, Y., 1990. "The Ratchet Effect And The Market For Second-Hand Workers," Cahiers de recherche 9027, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2007. "Fairness and contract design," Munich Reprints in Economics 20618, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Falk, Armin & Heckman, James J, 2010. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," CEPR Discussion Papers 7620, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Charles Brown, 1990. "Firms' choice of method of pay," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 165-182, February.
  7. Joanne Salop & Steve Salop, 1976. "Self-selection and turnover in the labor market," Special Studies Papers 80, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-75, September.
  9. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  11. Bonin, Holger & Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Cross-sectional earnings risk and occupational sorting: The role of risk attitudes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 926-937, December.
  12. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1985. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 85-21, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  13. 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.
  14. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  15. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1988. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," NBER Working Papers 2638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. W. Bentley MacLeod & James Malcomson, 1997. "Motivation and Markets," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 339., Boston College Department of Economics.
  17. Baron, David P. & Besanko, David, 1984. "Regulation and information in a continuing relationship," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 267-302.
  18. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
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  28. repec:eme:rlepps:v:18:y:1999:i:1999:p:177-242 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. 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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