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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. Baron, David P. & Besanko, David, 1984. "Regulation and information in a continuing relationship," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 267-302.
  2. Nalbantian, Haig R & Schotter, Andrew, 1997. "Productivity under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 314-41, June.
  3. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Juergen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Working Papers 2096, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. 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.
  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. 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.
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  8. W. Bentley MacLeod & James Malcomson, 1997. "Motivation and Markets," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 339., Boston College Department of Economics.
  9. Charles Brown, 1990. "Wage Levels and Method of Pay," NBER Working Papers 3336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Englmaier, Florian & Wambach, Achim, 2010. "Optimal incentive contracts under inequity aversion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 312-328, July.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  15. Armin Falk & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," Working Papers 200935, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  16. 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.
  17. Robert Gibbons, 1986. "Piece-Rate Incentive Schemes," Working papers 424, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Claudia Goldin, 1985. "Monitoring Costs and Occupational Segregation by Sex: An Historical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 1560, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  28. repec:eme:rlepps:v:18:y:1999:i:1999:p:177-242 is not listed on IDEAS
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  30. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
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  33. Fahr, Rene & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2000. "Fairness as a constraint on trust in reciprocity: earned property rights in a reciprocal exchange experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 275-282, March.
  34. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
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