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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
Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2010003
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  1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 511, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Englmaier, Florian & Wambach, Achim, 2005. "Optimal Incentive Contracts under Inequity Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 1643, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Gibbons, Robert, 1987. "Piece-Rate Incentive Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 413-429, October.
  6. 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.
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  35. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
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