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Incentivizing calculated risk-taking :evidence from an experiment with commercial bank loan officers

  • Cole, Shawn
  • Kanz, Martin
  • Klapper, Leora

This paper uses a series of experiments with commercial bank loan officers to test the effect of performance incentives on risk-assessment and lending decisions. The paper first shows that, while high-powered incentives lead to greater screening effort and more profitable lending, their power is muted by both deferred compensation and the limited liability typically enjoyed by loan officers. Second, the paper presents direct evidence that incentive contracts distort judgment and beliefs, even among trained professionals with many years of experience. Loans evaluated under more permissive incentive schemes are rated significantly less risky than the same loans evaluated under pay-for-performance.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6146.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6146
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  1. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  2. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Baranky & Imran Rasul, 2011. "Field Experiments with Firms," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 028, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  3. Dell’Ariccia, G. & Igan, D. & Laeven, L., 2009. "Credit Booms and Lending Standards : Evidence from the Subprime Mortgage Market," Discussion Paper 2009-46 S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Allen N. Berger & Leora F. Klapper & Gregory F. Udell, 2001. "The ability of banks to lend to informationally opaque small businesses," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-34, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  6. Bandiera, Oriana & Barankay, Iwan & Rasul, Imran, 2006. "Incentives for Managers and Inequality Among Workers: Evidence from a Firm Level Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 5649, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Alex Edmans & Qi Liu, 2011. "Inside Debt," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(1), pages 75-102.
  8. Sumit Agarwal & Itzhak Ben-David, 2014. "Do Loan Officers' Incentives Lead to Lax Lending Standards?," NBER Working Papers 19945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1990. "Performance Pay and Top-Management Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 225-64, April.
  10. Stephan Meier & Charles Sprenger, 2010. "Present-Biased Preferences and Credit Card Borrowing," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 193-210, January.
  11. Shawn A. Cole, 2007. "Financial Development, Bank Ownership, and Growth. Or, Does Quantity Imply Quality?," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-002, Harvard Business School.
  12. Jose Maria Liberti, 2004. "Initiative, Incentives and Soft Information. How Does Delegation Impact The Role of Bank Relationship Managers?," Finance 0404023, EconWPA.
  13. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Rodrigo Valdes & Oscar Landerretche, 2001. "Lending Booms: Latin America and the World," NBER Working Papers 8249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Patrick Bolton & Hamid Mehran & Joel Shapiro, 2010. "Executive compensation and risk taking," Staff Reports 456, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  15. Baker, G.P. & Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Compensation And Incentives: Practice Vs. Theory," Papers 88-05, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  16. Guy Mayraz, 2011. "Wishful Thinking," CEP Discussion Papers dp1092, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  17. Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Robert Marquez, 2006. "Lending Booms and Lending Standards," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(5), pages 2511-2546, October.
  18. Allen N. Berger & Gregory F. Udell, 2003. "The institutional memory hypothesis and the procyclicality of bank lending behaviour," BIS Working Papers 125, Bank for International Settlements.
  19. Florian Heider & Roman Inderst, 2012. "Loan Prospecting," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(8), pages 2381-2415.
  20. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Innovative firms or innovative owners ? determinants of innovation in micro, small, and medium enterprises," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4934, The World Bank.
  21. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362, February.
  22. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  23. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
  24. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672, May.
  25. Charles Towe & Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Naturally occurring preferences and exogenous laboratory experiments: A case study of risk aversion," Framed Field Experiments 00155, The Field Experiments Website.
  26. Andrew Hertzberg & Jose Maria Liberti & Daniel Paravisini, 2010. "Information and Incentives Inside the Firm: Evidence from Loan Officer Rotation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(3), pages 795-828, 06.
  27. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
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