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Performance Pay and Multi-dimensional Sorting - Productivity, Preferences and Gender

  • Dohmen Thomas
  • Falk Armin

    (ROA rm)

This paper studies the impact of incentives on worker self-selection in a controlledlaboratory experiment. Subjects face the choice between a fixed and a variable paymentscheme. Depending on the treatment, the variable payment is a piece rate, a tournamentor 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 attitudessuch as willingness to take risks and relative self-assessment as well as gender affectthe sorting decision in a systematic way. Moreover, self-reported effort is significantlyhigher in all variable pay conditions than in the fixed wage condition. Our lab findingsare supported by an additional analysis using data from a large and representativesample. In sum, our findings underline the importance of multi-dimensional sorting,i.e., the tendency for different incentive schemes to systematically attract people withdifferent individual characteristics.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) in its series ROA Research Memorandum with number 003.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2010003
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. 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.
  3. MacLeod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1997. "Motivation and markets," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9720, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  4. Goldin, Claudia, 1986. "Monitoring Costs and Occupational Segregation by Sex: A Historical Analysis," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-27, January.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  8. Robert Gibbons, 1986. "Piece-Rate Incentive Schemes," Working papers 424, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Bonin, Holger & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Cross-sectional earnings risk and occupational sorting: The role of risk attitudes," Munich Reprints in Economics 20204, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Christian Grund & Dirk Sliwka, 2005. "Envy and Compassion in Tournaments," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 187-207, 03.
  11. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
  12. Knoeber, Charles R & Thurman, Walter N, 1994. "Testing the Theory of Tournaments: An Empirical Analysis of Broiler Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 155-79, April.
  13. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
  14. Nalbantian, Haig & Schotter, Andrew, 1994. "Productivity Under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 94-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  15. Salop, Joanne & Salop, Steven, 1976. "Self-Selection and Turnover in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 619-27, November.
  16. Englmaier, Florian & Wambach, Achim, 2005. "Optimal Incentive Contracts under Inequity Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 1643, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Bohnet, Iris & Kübler, Dorothea, 2000. "Compensating the cooperators: Is sorting in the prisoner's dilemma possible?," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2001,2, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Oberholzer-Gee Felix & Eichenberger Reiner, 2008. "Fairness in Extended Dictator Game Experiments," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, July.
  21. 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.
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  23. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
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  25. Charles Brown, 1990. "Wage Levels and Method of Pay," NBER Working Papers 3336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Armin Falk & David Huffman & Gert Wagner & Jurgen Schupp & Thomas Dohmen & Uwe Sunde, 2005. "Individual risk attitudes: New evidence from a large, representative, experimentally-validated survey," Framed Field Experiments 00140, The Field Experiments Website.
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  30. repec:eme:rlepps:v:18:y:1999:i:1999:p:177-242 is not listed on IDEAS
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  34. Daniel Parent, 1999. "Methods of pay and earnings: A longitudinal analysis," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(1), pages 71-86, October.
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