IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Social Exchange and Common Agency in Organizations

  • R Dur
  • H.J. Roelfsema

We study the relation between formal incentives and social exchange in organizations where employees work for several managers and reciprocate to a manager's attention with higher effort. To this end, we develop a common agency model with two-sided moral hazard. We show that when effort is contractible and attention is not, the first-best can be achieved through bonus pay for both managers and employees. When neither effort nor attention are contractible, an `attention race' arises, as each manager tries to sway the employee's effort his way. While this may result in too much social exchange, the attention race may also be a blessing because it alleviates managers' moral-hazard problem inattention provision. Lastly, we derive the implications of these contract imperfections for the optimal number of managers that share one employee.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Utrecht School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 06-11.

in new window

Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:use:tkiwps:0611
Contact details of provider: Postal:
P.O. Box 80125, NL-3508 TC Utrecht

Phone: +31 30 253 9800
Fax: +31 30 253 7373
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. Sandra Maximiano & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2004. "Gift Exchange in a Multi-worker Firm," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-100/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Uri Gneezy & John A. List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 12063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Carl M. Campbell III & Kunal S. Kamlani, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-789.
  4. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "The Firm as a Subeconomy," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 74-102, April.
  5. Englmaier, Florian & Wambach, Achim, 2010. "Optimal incentive contracts under inequity aversion," Munich Reprints in Economics 22027, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Sebastian Kube & Michel André Maréchal & Clemens Puppe, 2006. "Putting Reciprocity to Work - Positive versus Negative Responses in the Field," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2006 2006-27, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  8. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  9. Dixit, Avinash, 1997. "Power of Incentives in Private versus Public Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 378-82, May.
  10. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. John A. List, 2005. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," NBER Working Papers 11616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Multicontract Organization," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(3), pages 459-66, August.
  13. Giacomo Corneo & Rafael Rob, . "Working in Public and Private Firms," Penn CARESS Working Papers 7942b6b570793de0891a05acb, Penn Economics Department.
  14. Robert Dur, 2009. "Gift Exchange in The Workplace: Money or Attention?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 550-560, 04-05.
  15. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M Schmidt, 2007. "Fairness and Contract Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 121-154, 01.
  16. David Martimort, 1996. "Exclusive Dealing, Common Agency, and Multiprincipals Incentive Theory," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 1-19, Spring.
  17. Paul R. Milgrom., 1987. "Employment Contracts, Influence Activities and Efficient Organization Design," Economics Working Papers 8741, University of California at Berkeley.
  18. James A. Fairburn & James M. Malcomson, 2001. "Performance, Promotion, and the Peter Principle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 45-66.
  19. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1985. "Common Marketing Agency as a Device for Facilitating Collusion," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(2), pages 269-281, Summer.
  20. Inderst, Roman & Müller, Holger M. & Wärneryd, Karl, 2000. "Influence Costs and Hierarchy," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 392, Stockholm School of Economics.
  21. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  22. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  23. Jean-Jacques Laffont & David Martimort, 1997. "The Firm as a Multicontract Organization," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(2), pages 201-234, 06.
  24. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
  25. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1998. "Incomplete Contracts and Strategic Ambiguity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 902-32, September.
  26. Emrah Arbak & Laurence Kranich, 2005. "Can Wages Signal Kindness?," Working Papers 0511, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  27. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2004. "Incentives and Workers’ Motivation in the Public Sector," CESifo Working Paper Series 1223, CESifo Group Munich.
  28. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
  29. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
  30. Julio J. Rotemberg & Garth Saloner, 1993. "Leadership Style and Incentives," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(11), pages 1299-1318, November.
  31. Esther Gal-Or, 1991. "A Common Agency with Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(2), pages 274-286, Summer.
  32. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  33. Rafael Rob & Peter Zemsky, 2002. "Social Capital, Corporate Culture, and Incentive Intensity," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(2), pages 243-257, Summer.
  34. Daniel S. Nagin & James B. Rebitzer & Seth Sanders & Lowell J. Taylor, 2002. "Monitoring, Motivation, and Management: The Determinants of Opportunistic Behavior in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 850-873, September.
  35. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  36. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Common Agency," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 923-42, July.
  37. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1994. "Human Relations in the Workplace," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 684-717, August.
  38. Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Optimal Contracts When a Worker Envies His Boss," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 120-137, May.
  39. Maximiano, Sandra & Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2013. "Gift exchange and the separation of ownership and control," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 41-60.
  40. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
  41. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  42. McCain, Roger A., 2008. "Cooperative games and cooperative organizations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2155-2167, December.
  43. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:use:tkiwps:0611. 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: (Marina Muilwijk)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.