Optimal contracts, adverse selection and social preferences: An experiment
It has long been standard in agency theory to search for incentive-compatible mechanisms on the assumption that people care only about their own material wealth. However, this assumption is clearly refuted by numerous experiments, and we feel that it may be useful to consider nonpecuniary utility in mechanism design and contract theory. Accordingly, we devise an experiment to explore optimal contracts in an adverse-selection context. A principal proposes one of three contract menus, each of which offers a choice of two incentive-compatible contracts, to two agents whose types are unknown to the principal. The agents know the set of possible menus, and choose to either accept one of the two contracts offered in the proposed menu or to reject the menu altogether; a rejection by either agent leads to lower (and equal) reservation payoffs for all parties. While all three possible menus favor the principal, they do so to varying degrees. We observe numerous rejections of the more lopsided menus, and approach an equilibrium where one of the more equitable contract menus (which one depends on the reservation payoffs) is proposed and agents accept a contract, selecting actions according to their types. Behavior is largely consistent with all recent models of social preferences, strongly suggesting there is value in considering nonpecuniary utility in agency theory.
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Keser, Claudia & Willinger, Marc, 2000. "Principals' principles when agents' actions are hidden," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 163-185, January.
- J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
- Dufwenberg, Martin & Lundholm, Michael, 2001.
"Social Norms and Moral Hazard,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 506-25, July.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2000.
"Fairness, incentives, and contractual choices,"
European Economic Review,
Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1057-1068, May.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2000. "Fairness, incentives, and contractual choices," Munich Reprints in Economics 20659, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "Fairness, Incentives, and Contractual Choices," IEW - Working Papers 020, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997.
"Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence,"
Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
- Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988.
"Performance Pay And Top Management Incentives,"
88-04, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
- Selten, Reinhard & Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Klaus Abbink, 1995.
"Money does Not Induce Risk Neutral Behavior, but Binary Lotteries Do even Worse,"
Discussion Paper Serie B
343, University of Bonn, Germany.
- Reinhard Selten & Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Klaus Abbink, 1999. "Money Does Not Induce Risk Neutral Behavior, but Binary Lotteries Do even Worse," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 213-252, June.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, .
"A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation,"
IEW - Working Papers
004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Garen, John E, 1994. "Executive Compensation and Principal-Agent Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1175-99, December.
- W. Güth & W. Klose & M. Königstein & J. Schwalbach, 1996.
"An Experimental Study of a Dynamic Principal-Agent Relationship,"
SFB 373 Discussion Papers
1996,95, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
- Werner Güth & Wolfgang Klose & Manfred Königstein & Joachim Schwalbach, 1998. "An experimental study of a dynamic principal-agent relationship," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 327-341.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:478. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.