IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The empirical effects of performance contracts: evidence from China

  • Shirley, Mary
  • Lixin Colin Xu

Performance contracts are widely used to reform state-owned enterprises. By June 1994, there were 565 such contracts in 32 developing countries, used prinicipally to reform large utilities and other monopolies, and roughly another 103,000 in China, where they are also used to reform state manufacturing enterprises. A performance contract is a written agreement between the manager of a state enterprise (who promises to achieve specific targets in a certain time frame) and government (which--usually--promises to award achievement with a bonus or other incentive). Performance contracts are a variant of the pay-for-performance or incentive contracts often used to motivate managers in the private sector. In the public sector, they are viewed as a device to reveal information and motivate managers to exert effort. The authors analyze China's experience with performance contracts in more than 400 state enterprises. China is a good place for such a study because no country has ever used them on such a scale or with such a variety of enterprises (mostly in the competitive sector). China also uses many different kinds of contracts, with different targets (more profit-, tax-, or output-oriented). The authors find that performance contracts: a) on average, do not improve productivity in China's state enterprises and may even reduce it; b) are ineffective in competitive firms as well as monopolies; c) do more harm when they provide only weak incentives and when they do not reduce information asymmetry. They find no connection between variables for commitment and the effects of performance contracts. Design matters. When performance contracts contain all the"good"features--profit orientation,higher wage elasticity, and lower markup ratios--the firm's productivity growth rate could increase as much as 10 percent. The Chinese government was serious about implementing performance contracts, and used measures considerably more radical than other countries used, hailing the contract system as the official national mode for reforming state enterprises. But most of the contracts have had little or no effect on growth rates and the observed frequency of contracts with"good"provisions is exceedingly low. Perhaps the political economy of incentive contracts in government settings merits further study. Political considerations may preclude the design of incentive contracts for government actors could produce the sort of productivity gains some private firms have achieved. One observer (Byrd 1991) points out that the central government gave local governments a good deal of discretion in implementing performance contracts and local governments had a tendency to adopt the lowest common denominator, a"bare-bones"performance contract.

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: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/1998/05/01/000009265_3980630181034/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1919.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 31 May 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1919
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page: http://www.worldbank.org/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

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. Nicholas Barberis & Maxim Boycko & Andrei Shleifer & Natalia Tsukanova, 1995. "How Does Privatization Work? Evidence from the Russian Shops," NBER Working Papers 5136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  3. Boardman, Anthony E & Vining, Aidan R, 1989. "Ownership and Performance in Competitive Environments: A Comparison of the Performance of Private, Mixed, and State-Owned Enterprises," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 1-33, April.
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:wbk:wbrwps:1919. 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: (Roula I. Yazigi)

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.