Article

Team Production with Punishment Option: Insights from a Real-Effort Experiment

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

This paper analyzes the consequences of allowing for punishment in a real-effort pair production experiment. The behavior of the best performer in the team differs on whether he or she can impose a sanction on the less performing partner. When sanctions are not allowed, good performers reduce their effort in response to the advantageous difference in scores; when they can impose sanctions, their change in effort is no longer related to the difference in scores. To some extent, a sanction mechanism allows good performers to focus on their own performance. In the case of costless sanctions, not sanctioning a partner who under-performs, what we refer to as forgiveness, prompts the latter to improve his or her performance, but applying the sanction has a stronger push effect. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... The authors find that subjects eventually coordinate at the efficient level of zero errors from all members. The second real effort coordination experiment was conducted by Vranceanu et al. (2015). The authors use the task of counting 7's in a block of random numberscorrectly reporting the number of 7's in a block generates one unit of output. ...
... In fact, most of these experiments observe outcomes tending toward the least efficient equilibrium. However, recent coordination experiments (Vranceanu et al. 2015, Bortolotti et al. 2016) using real effort find the opposite: subjects' individual performance and coordination outcomes increase over time and approach the payoff-dominant equilibrium when one exists. As we show below, our results corroborate the findings from previous real effort coordination experiments, and we argue that the assumption of payoff dominance is reasonable in our setting. ...
... We also see that the time trend is always statistically significant and positive for team production: team production is increasing over time for both treatments. Although this finding is unlike previous weak-link experiments with abstract effort, our result is in line with other real effort coordination experiments (Vranceanu et al. 2015, Bortolotti et al. 2016). We take a closer look at what goals managers set in the next section. ...
Article
Problem definition: We investigate the impact of nonbinding (wage-irrelevant) goals, set by a manager, on a team of workers with “weak-link” production technology. Can nonbinding goals improve team production when team members face production complementarity? Academic/practical relevance: Nonbinding goals are easy to implement and ubiquitous in practice. These goals have been shown to improve individual performance, but it remains to be seen if such goals are effective in team production when there is production complementarity among workers. Methodology: We first develop a theoretical model where goals act as reference points for workers’ intrinsic motivation to complete the task. We then test our hypotheses in a controlled, human-subjects experiment. In our experiment, participants act as managers or workers, and we examine the impact of nonbinding goals on team outcomes. Results: Consistent with our model, we find evidence that team production does increase when managers are able to set goals. This effect is strongest when goals are challenging but attainable for weak-link workers. However, we also find evidence that many managers assign goals that are too challenging for weak-link workers, resulting in suboptimal team production, lower profits, and higher wasted performance (performance above the weak-link level). Managerial implications: Our analysis indicates that goals are effective motivators in teams, but some managers may have difficulty overcoming personal biases when setting goals. The task of setting team goals is more complex than setting individual goals, and many managers can benefit from training on how to set good goals for the team. Moreover, our finding that suboptimal goals also increase wasted performance suggests that improving goal-setting strategies is especially important in production settings where overperformance is costly for the firm (scrap, energy use, inventory costs, lower prices as a result of oversupply, etc.).
... Payoffs are calibrated such that without punishment individuals have an incentive to free ride (they are paid for resting). However, in this paper, the best performer on a team has the option to punish the less productive partner by applying a monetary sanction (Vranceanu et al. (2014)). Taking stock on the existing literature on gender composition and team performance which shows that all-women teams record relatively poorer performances than mixed teams, we might make the hypothesis according to which, when a women is teamed with a women, her performance would deteriorate. ...
... 9 Payoffs are denominated in Experimental Currency Units (ECU), with an exchange rate 100 ECU = 2.5 Euros. In a typical round, subjects are asked to count the number of 7s in blocks of random numbers, successively displayed on the computer screen over four minutes (Mohnen et al. (2008); Pokorny (2008); Vranceanu et al. (2014)). The typical bloc has 30 columns and 6 rows (see Appendix); in each bloc, the number of 7s varies at random between 11 and 24, with an average of 18. ...
... The aim of this paper is to contribute to this literature by developing a real-effort experiment in which pairs of individuals were asked to " produce " correct answers in a counting task. In the experiment, subjects must count 7s in blocs of figures displayed successively on the computer screen (Mohnen et al. (2008), Pokorny (2008), Vranceanu et al. (2014)). Partners on a team receive an equal share of the team's output as compensation. ...
Article
This paper reports results from a real-eort experiment in which men and women are paired to form a two-member team and asked to execute a real-effort task. Each participant receives an equal share of the team's output. Workers who perform better than their partner can punish him/her by imposing a fine. We manipulate the teams' gender composition (man-man, man-woman, and woman-woman) to analyze whether an individual's performance and sanctioning behavior depends on his/her gender and the gender interaction within the team. The data show that, on average, men perform slightly better than women. A man's performance will deteriorate when paired with a woman, while a woman's performance will improve when paired with a woman. When underperforming, women are sanctioned more often and more heavily than men; if sanctioned, men tend to improve their performance, while women's performance does not change.
... Since the task is short, subject only get moderately bored and fatigued. Following Vranceanu et al. (2015), I give subjects a small incentive to take breaks -in order to make the fatigue and boredom that subjects do experience more salient. The aim of this incentive is to mimic the shirking behaviour that would naturally arise in a longer task where fatigue has more time to set in. ...
Research
Full-text available
Incentive theory has paid relatively little attention to workers’ identities. In this paper, I conduct the first experiment exploring the relationship between identity and optimal incentives. I construct workgroups which are either homogeneous or heterogeneous in members' identities and examine their productivity at a real-effort task under tournament pay and team pay. I find that in homogeneous workgroups, productivity is higher under team pay; in heterogeneous workgroups, on the other hand, productivity is similar under both incentive schemes. Team pay induces greater helping of peers --- especially in homogeneous workgroups. Tournament pay induces higher personal effort --- especially in heterogeneous workgroups. I also find that incentives influence workers' identities and that females are disadvantaged by tournament pay.
... Incentive, once uncertainty about the others' future efforts is too high, coordinating on high effort levels is very difficult without the behavior of a controllable instrument as for example communication (through the intervention of an external manager , formal punishment (Dai et al., 2015;Vranceanu et al., 2015), or letting the subjects choose their group partners (Riedl et al., 2016;Chen, 2017 ...
Thesis
Full-text available
This thesis aims at contributing to make the energy renovation market long-lasting and self-sustaining. To achieve this, our objective is to quantify the risk of not achieving energy performance after renovation. First, we analyze households’ psychological factors that should be considered to improve energy consumption prediction models. Drawing on the Je rénove BBC program, we highlight four cognitive biases that negatively impact the difference between actual and predicted energy consumption. We then study the most appropriate contract structures improving the flow and quality of renovation projects, encouraging craftsmen to work better. On one hand, we determine optimal contracts for an Agent who has to perform two tasks and underestimates the impact of one of them on the building's performance. On the other hand, we test individual-based and group-based incentives on the ability of several real Agents (craftsmen) to coordinate, according to their initial training (DORéMI, …).
... Motivations for exerting effort partly depend on the vocational environment for people working in a team (Smirnov & Wait, 2015). The economic structure 1 of companies include teams producing services and goods ( Vranceanu et al., 2015), but managers cannot frequently determine the exact share of each employee in this process. As the result, many firms pay a portion of their gross production to their employees. ...
Article
Full-text available
t is commonly held that increasing monetary rewards enhance work effort. This study, however, argues that this will not ineludibly occur in team activities. Incentive Reversal may occur in sequential team productions featuring positive external impacts on agents. This seemingly paradoxical event is explained through two experiments in this article. The first experiment involves a sample of 182 college students who were paired in groups each playing 12 games that led to 2,184 observations. The second experiment involves a sample of 210 college students who were grouped into teams of three that involved 420 observations. The results of both experiments confirmed the occurrence of incentive reversals despite increasing monetary rewards.
... Perhaps teammates deliberately raise their tolerance for each other's autonomy preferences when it comes to putting up with conflict in entrepreneurship team contexts. In other words, in the earliest stages of entrepreneurship, when team members are not at their best, teammates "forgive but don't forget" (see Vranceanu et al., 2015). Nevertheless, we suggest that teams should not automatically expect correlations between overt team conflict and satisfaction. ...
Article
Full-text available
We look at determinants of satisfaction of team members on nascent entrepreneurial teams, specifically focusing on how conflict mediates the effects of effort perceptions of teammates, as well as the effects of preferences for autonomy (one’s own as well as those of teammates). Using data collected from 120 team members across 36 nascent entrepreneurship teams we show that relationship conflict and task conflict mediate the effects of effort perception on satisfaction in one’s team, and satisfaction in one’s own role, respectively. Furthermore, in the eyes of a team member, we evidence that need for authority found elsewhere within a team positively relates to one’s own general satisfaction in the teamwork, but has a negative interaction effect as one’s own need for authority increases. Based on our findings, we offer some future research directions in investigating the roles of effort perceptions, autonomy concerns, conflict, and satisfaction on nascent entrepreneurship teams.
Article
We investigate cheating in work groups, to empirically test the idea of an honest workplace environment as a determinant of performance. Three individuals receive team-based performance pay for executing a real-effort task. In addition, two of them have the opportunity to obtain a bonus in a dice game, which allows cheating without exposure by misreporting a secret die roll. We are particularly interested in the behavioral response of the bystander as the potential witness to the dishonest action. To identify the implications of lies at work, the rules of the bonus game were altered to randomly prevent cheating, or not, across treatment conditions while holding the monetary consequences constant. Survey data enables us to analyze effect heterogeneity and to explore mechanisms underlying behavioral responses. We begin our analysis by estimating the mean lying rate and find that the opportunity-to-cheat is exploited in roughly 42% of cases. The probability of misreporting increases if the cheater's partner in crime is male. Contrary to claims on the importance of honesty at work, we do not observe a reduction in performance when cheating takes place, neither for the bystander nor for the whole team. Bounded awareness could be an explanation, as we find substantial evidence for effect heterogeneity along the lines of information preferences. Bystanders with higher preferences for inconvenient information provide relatively low task performance, compared to those with lower information preferences, who seem to turn a blind eye to the dishonest action of their co-workers by putting increased effort into their work.
Article
We explore how differentially autonomous and autocratic teammates affect each other’s exposure to conflict and then satisfaction on prefounding entrepreneurship teams. Data from venture creation courses show that preferences for freedom (from rules) and discretion (over one’s job) each have their unique interactive effects, when assessing one’s own preferences in light of teammates’ preference. High teamwide preference for independence was not linked to satisfaction, but one's preference for independence interacts with actual interdependence to affect it. High teamwide preference to lead autocratically increases task conflict and diminishes satisfaction. Overall we find that conflict plays no role as a mediating variable.
Article
In this paper, we discuss learning behavior and the heterogeneity of subjects’ ability to perform in real-effort tasks. We present a task, which aims to minimize learning in repeated settings. In the task participants encrypt words into numbers. We randomize the numbers in the allocation table and the position of the words in the table after a puzzle was solved. We report data where subjects work repeatedly in the task for ten periods. We find a very weak learning behavior of 2% between periods 1–5 and periods 6–10 of the data. The data demonstrate that subjects show a small heterogeneity in performance. Our results also show that women perform better in the task. Hence, the task is also adequate for settings, which aim to analyze gender settings where female participants have an advantage. This may be helpful as many tasks find a male advantage or no gender difference.
Article
Full-text available
We examine experimentally how Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) respond to incentives and how they provide incentives in situations requiring trust and trustworthiness. As a control we compare the behavior of CEOs with the behavior of students. We find that CEOs are considerably more trusting and exhibit more trustworthiness than students—thus reaching substantially higher efficiency levels than students. Moreover, we find that, for CEOs as well as for students, incentives based on explicit threats to penalize shirking backfire by inducing less trustworthy behavior—giving rise to hidden costs of incentives. However, thxe availability of penalizing incentives also creates hidden returns: if a principal expresses trust by voluntarily refraining from implementing the punishment threat, the agent exhibits significantly more trustworthiness than if the punishment threat is not available. Thus trust seems to reinforce trustworthy behavior. Overall, trustworthiness is highest if the threat to punish is available but not used, while it is lowest if the threat to punish is used. Paradoxically, however, most CEOs and students use the punishment threat, although CEOs use it significantly less. (JEL: C91, C92, J30, J41)
Article
Full-text available
People can become less cooperative when threatened with sanctions, and previous research suggests both "intentions" and incentives underlie this effect. We report data from an experiment aimed at determining the relative importance of intentions and incentives in producing non-cooperative behavior. Participants play a one-shot investment experiment in pairs. Investors send an amount to trustees, request a return on this investment and, in some treatments, can threaten sanctions to enforce their requests. Decisions by trustees facing threats imposed (or not) by investors are compared to decisions by trustees facing threats imposed (or not) by nature. When not threatened, trustees typically decide to return a positive amount less than the investor requested. When threatened this decision becomes least common. If the request is large relative to the sanction then most trustees return nothing. If the request is small, trustees typically return the requested amount. These results do not vary with investors' intentions.
Article
Full-text available
I survey the literature post Ledyard (Handbook of Experimental Economics, ed. by J. Kagel, A. Roth, Chap.2, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1995) on three related issues in linear public goods experiments: (1) conditional cooperation; (2) the role of costly monetary punishments in sustaining cooperation and (3) the sustenance of cooperation via means other than such punishments. Many participants in laboratory public goods experiments are “conditional cooperators” whose contributions to the public good are positively correlated with their beliefs about the average group contribution. Conditional cooperators are often able to sustain high contributions to the public good through costly monetary punishment of free-riders but also by other mechanisms such as expressions of disapproval, advice giving and assortative matching. KeywordsPublic goods–Conditional cooperation–Monetary punishments–Non-monetary punishments–Moral suasion–Sorting
Article
Full-text available
In the reported experiment different payment schemes are examined on their incentive effects. Payments based on individual, team and relative performance are compared. Subjects conducted computerized tasks that required substantial effort. The results show that individual and team payment induced the same effort levels. In team production free-riding occurred, but it was compensated by many subjects providing more effort than in case of individual pay. Effort was higher, but more variable in tournaments, while in case of varying abilities workers with relatively low ability worked very hard and drove up effort of the others. Finally, attitudes towards work and other workers differed strongly between conditions.
Article
Full-text available
Partnerships and profit sharing are often claimed to motivate workers by giving them a share of the pie. But in organizations of any significant size, the free-rider effects would seem to choke off any motivational forces. This analysis explores how peer pressure operates and how factors such as profit sharing, shame, guilt, norms, mutual monitoring, and empathy interact to create incentives in the firm. The argument that Japanese firms enjoy team spirit because compensation is linked to overall profitability is analyzed. An explanation for the prevalence of partnerships among individuals in similar occupations is provided. Copyright 1992 by University of Chicago Press.
Article
Full-text available
We provide an explanation for peer pressure in teams based on inequity aversion. Analyzing a two-period model with two agents, we find that the effect of inequity aversion strongly depends on the information structure. When contributions are unobservable, agents act as though they were purely selfish. However, when contributions are made transparent at an interim stage, agents exert higher efforts in the first period and adjust their efforts according to the interim information in the second period. This form of peer pressure reduces free riding, and thus more efficient outcomes are attained. The results are confirmed in a real effort experiment. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago.
Article
Full-text available
Human cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle. Unlike other creatures, people frequently cooperate with genetically unrelated strangers, often in large groups, with people they will never meet again, and when reputation gains are small or absent. These patterns of cooperation cannot be explained by the nepotistic motives associated with the evolutionary theory of kin selection and the selfish motives associated with signalling theory or the theory of reciprocal altruism. Here we show experimentally that the altruistic punishment of defectors is a key motive for the explanation of cooperation. Altruistic punishment means that individuals punish, although the punishment is costly for them and yields no material gain. We show that cooperation flourishes if altruistic punishment is possible, and breaks down if it is ruled out. The evidence indicates that negative emotions towards defectors are the proximate mechanism behind altruistic punishment. These results suggest that future study of the evolution of human cooperation should include a strong focus on explaining altruistic punishment.
Article
Full-text available
The existence of cooperation and social order among genetically unrelated individuals is a fundamental problem in the behavioural sciences. The prevailing approaches in biology and economics view cooperation exclusively as self-interested behaviour--unrelated individuals cooperate only if they face economic rewards or sanctions rendering cooperation a self-interested choice. Whether economic incentives are perceived as just or legitimate does not matter in these theories. Fairness-based altruism is, however, a powerful source of human cooperation. Here we show experimentally that the prevailing self-interest approach has serious shortcomings because it overlooks negative effects of sanctions on human altruism. Sanctions revealing selfish or greedy intentions destroy altruistic cooperation almost completely, whereas sanctions perceived as fair leave altruism intact. These findings challenge proximate and ultimate theories of human cooperation that neglect the distinction between fair and unfair sanctions, and they are probably relevant in all domains in which voluntary compliance matters--in relations between spouses, in the education of children, in business relations and organizations as well as in markets.
Article
Full-text available
The canonical model in economics considers people to be rational and self-regarding. However, much evidence challenges this view, raising the question of when “Economic Man” dominates the outcome of social interactions, and when bounded rationality or other-regarding preferences dominate. Here we show that strategic incentives are the key to answering this question. A minority of self-regarding individuals can trigger a “noncooperative” aggregate outcome if their behavior generates incentives for the majority of other-regarding individuals to mimic the minority's behavior. Likewise, a minority of other-regarding individuals can generate a “cooperative” aggregate outcome if their behavior generates incentives for a majority of self-regarding people to behave cooperatively. Similarly, in strategic games, aggregate outcomes can be either far from or close to Nash equilibrium if players with high degrees of strategic thinking mimic or erase the effects of others who do very little strategic thinking. Recently developed theories of other-regarding preferences and bounded rationality explain these findings and provide better predictions of actual aggregate behavior than does traditional economic theory.
Article
Full-text available
z-Tree (Zurich Toolbox for Ready-made Economic Experiments) is a software for developing and conducting economic experiments. The software is stable and allows programming almost any kind of experiments in a short time. In this article, I present the guiding principles behind the software design, its features, and its limitations. Copyright Economic Science Association 2007
Article
Full-text available
This paper experimentally investigates the impact of different pay and relative performance information policies on employee effort. We explore three information policies: No feedback about relative performance, feedback given halfway through the production period, and continuously updated feedback. The pay schemes are a piece rate payment scheme and a winner-takes-all tournament. We find that, regardless of the pay scheme used, feedback does not improve performance. There are no significant peer effects in the piece-rate pay scheme. In contrast, in the tournament scheme we find some evidence of positive peer effects since the underdogs almost never quit the competition even when lagging significantly behind, and frontrunners do not slack off. Moreover, in both pay schemes information feedback reduces the quality of the low performers’ work.
Article
Full-text available
The financial crisis of 2008, which started with an initially well-defined epicenter focused on mortgage backed securities (MBS), has been cascading into a global economic recession, whose increasing severity and uncertain duration has led and is continuing to lead to massive losses and damage for billions of people. Heavy central bank interventions and government spending programs have been launched worldwide and especially in the USA and Europe, with the hope to unfreeze credit and boltster consumption. Here, we present evidence and articulate a general framework that allows one to diagnose the fundamental cause of the unfolding financial and economic crisis: the accumulation of several bubbles and their interplay and mutual reinforcement has led to an illusion of a ``perpetual money machine'' allowing financial institutions to extract wealth from an unsustainable artificial process. Taking stock of this diagnostic, we conclude that many of the interventions to address the so-called liquidity crisis and to encourage more consumption are ill-advised and even dangerous, given that precautionary reserves were not accumulated in the ``good times'' but that huge liabilities were. The most ``interesting'' present times constitute unique opportunities but also great challenges, for which we offer a few recommendations.
Article
Full-text available
This paper shows in two ways that the degree to which free-riding diminishes the performance of deterministic partnerships may be less than has been generally thought. First, a necessary and sufficient condition is provided for a partnership to sustain full efficiency. It implies that many non-trivial partnerships sustain efficiency, such as generic ones with finite action spaces, and neoclassical ones with Leontief technologies. Second, approximate efficiency is shown to be achievable in a large class of partnerships, including ones with smooth and monotonic production and disutility functions. Approximate efficiency is achieved by mixed-strategy equilibria: one partner takes, with small probability, an inefficient action. The degree to which efficiency is approximated is restricted only by the amount of liability the partners can bear. Nonetheless, their equilibrium payments are not arbitrarily large.
Article
Full-text available
This paper investigates the driving forces behind informal sanctions in cooperation games and the extent to which theories of fairness and reciprocity capture these forces. We find that cooperators' punishment is almost exclusively targeted toward the defectors, but the latter also impose a considerable amount of spiteful punishment on the cooperators. However, spiteful punishment vanishes if the punishers can no longer affect the payoff differences between themselves and the punished individual, whereas the cooperators even increase the resources devoted to punishment in this case. Our data also discriminate between different fairness principles. Fairness theories that are based on the assumption that players compare their own payoff to the group's average or the group's total payoff cannot explain the fact that cooperators target their punishment at the defectors. Fairness theories that assume that players aim to minimize payoff inequalities cannot explain the fact that cooperators punish defectors even if payoff inequalities cannot be reduced. Therefore, retaliation, i.e., the desire to harm those who committed unfair acts, seems to be the most important motive behind fairness-driven informal sanctions. Copyright The Econometric Society 2005.
Article
Full-text available
The mark of a capitalistic society is that resources are owned and allocated by such nongovernmental organizations as firms, households, and markets. Resource owners increase productivity through cooperative specialization and this leads to the demand for economic organizations which facilitate cooperation. When a lumber mill employs a cabinetmaker, cooperation between specialists is achieved within a firm, and when a cabinetmaker purchases wood from a lumberman, the cooperation takes place across markets (or between firms). Two important problems face a theory of economic organization – to explain the conditions that determine whether the gains from specialization and cooperative production can better be obtained within an organization like the firm, or across markets, and to explain the structure of the organization. It is common to see the firm characterized by the power to settle issues by fiat, by authority, or by disciplinary action superior to that available in the conventional market. This is delusion. The firm does not own all its inputs. It has no power of fiat, no authority, no disciplinary action any different in the slightest degree from ordinary market contracting between any two people. I can “punish” you only by withholding future business or by seeking redress in the courts for any failure to honor our exchange agreement. That is exactly all that any employer can do. He can fire or sue, just as I can fire my grocer by stopping purchases from him or sue him for delivering faulty products.
Article
The Motivation Crowding Effect suggests that external intervention via monetary incentives or punishments may undermine, and under different identifiable conditions strengthen, intrinsic motivation. As of today, the theoretical possibility of motivation crowding has been the main subject of discussion among economists. This study demonstrates that the effect is also of empirical relevance. There exist a large number of studies, offering empirical evidence in support of the existence of crowding–out and crowding–in. The study is based on circumstantial evidence, laboratory studies by both psychologists and economists, as well as field research by econometric studies. The pieces of evidence presented refer to a wide variety of areas of the economy and society and have been collected for many different countries and periods of time. Crowding effects thus are an empirically relevant phenomenon, which can, in specific cases, even dominate the traditional relative price effect.
Article
This study reports experiments that examine behavior under team production and a piece rate. In the experiments, participants complete a forecasting task and are rewarded based on the accuracy of their forecasts. In the piece-rate condition, participants are paid based on their own performance, whereas the team‐production condition rewards participants based on the average performance of the team. Overall, there is no statistically significant difference in performance between the conditions. However, this result masks important differences in the behavior of men and women across the conditions. Men in the team‐production condition increase their performance relative to men in the piece‐rate condition. However, this gap in male performances across conditions diminishes over the course of the experiment. In contrast, women in the team‐production condition show significantly lower performance than the women in the piece rate. As a consequence of these differences, men in the team‐production condition show significantly better performance than women in the team‐production condition. We also find evidence that men show stronger performance when they are in teams with a larger variation in skill level. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Chapter
This widely praised and much-discussed book explores how cooperation can emerge in a world of self-seeking egoists---whether superpowers, businesses, or individuals---when there is no central authority to police their actions.
Article
The prospect of receiving a monetary sanction for free riding has been shown to increase contributions to public goods. We ask whether the impulse to punish is unresponsive to the cost to the punisher, or whether, like other preferences, it interacts with prices to generate a conventional demand curve. In a series of experiments, we randomly vary the cost of reducing the earnings of other group members following voluntary contribution decisions. In our design, new groups are formed after each interaction and no subject faces any other more than once, so there is no strategic reason to punish. We nonetheless find significant levels of punishment, and we learn that both price and the extent to which the recipient's contribution is below the group mean are significant determinants of the quantity of punishment demanded. Moreover, punishment is mainly directed at free riders even when it costs nothing to the punisher.
Article
Punishment of shirkers is often an effective means of attenuating incentive problems and sustaining coordination in work teams. Explanations of the motivation to punish generally rely either on small group size or on a Folk theorem that requires coordinated punishment and, hence, highly accurate information concerning the behavior of each player. We provide a model of team production in which the punishment of shirkers depends on strong reciprocity: the willingness of some team members to contribute altruistically to a joint project and also to bear costs in order to discipline fellow members who do not contribute. This alternative does not require small group size, complex coordinated punishing activities, or implausible informational assumptions. An experimental public goods game provides evidence for the behavioral relevance of strong reciprocity and how it differs from unconditional altruism.
Article
A number of studies have shown that peer punishment can sustain cooperation in public good games. This paper shows that the format used to give subjects feedback is critical for the efficacy of punishment. Providing subjects with information about the earnings of their peers leads to significantly less cooperation and lower efficiency compared to a treatment in which subjects receive information about the contributions of their peers. This is despite the fact that the feedback format does not affect incentives. The data suggest that this happens because the feedback format acts as a coordination device which influences the contribution standards that groups establish.
Article
We study subjects who were asked to fill letters into envelopes with a remuneration independent of output. In the "pair" treatment, two subjects worked at the same time in the same room, and peer effects were possible. In the "single" treatment, subjects worked alone, and peer effects were ruled out. We find evidence of peer effects in the pair treatment because the standard deviations of output are smaller within pairs than between pairs. Moreover, average output is higher in the pair treatment: thus, peer effects raise productivity. Finally, low-productivity workers are the most sensitive to the behavior of peers.
Article
The authors investigate the role of peer pressure in influencing the optimal incentive scheme offered to workers engaged in team production. They develop an agency model of peer policing to identify factors that affect the extent of mutual monitoring. As the principal must compensate workers for their monitoring efforts and the costs that peer pressure imposes on workers, introducing peer pressure alters the optimal compensation package. The authors establish conditions under which the principal reduces the marginal compensation rule to reduce monitoring efforts. As such, peer pressure provides a rationale for a reduced link between compensation and output in a team setting. Copyright 1997 by University of Chicago Press.
Article
This article studies moral hazard with many agents. The focus is on two features that are novel in a multiagent setting: free riding and competition. The free-rider problem implies a new role for the principal: administering incentive schemes that do not balance the budget. This new role is essential for controlling incentives and suggests that firms in which ownership and labor are partly separated will have an advantage over partnerships in which output is distributed among agents. A new characterization of informative (hence valuable) monitoring is derived and applied to analyze the value of relative performance evaluation. It is shown that competition among agents (due to relative evaluations) has merit solely as a device to extract information optimally. Competition per se is worthless. The role of aggregate measures in relative performance evaluation is also explored, and the implications for investment rules are discussed.
Article
Drawing on the proposer-responder game examined by Andreoni, Harbaugh, and Vesterlund (2003), I experimentally test four variations of a principal-agent relationship with fixed pay and real effort. Depending on the treatment, the principal can voluntarily, but at her own expense, (1) only reward her agent, (2) only punish her agent, (3) either reward or punish her agent, or (4) neither reward nor punish her agent. Compared to Andreoni et al., I find substantially higher investments in reward, about the same expenses for punishment, and no significant difference among the four treatments regarding output levels. I attribute these findings to the real effort aspect of the experimental design.
Article
This paper provides a comparative-statics analysis of punishment in public-good experiments. We vary the effectiveness of punishment, that is, the factor by which punishment reduces the punished player's income. The data show that contributions increase monotonically in punishment effectiveness. High effectiveness leads to near complete cooperation and welfare improvements. Below a certain threshold, however, punishment cannot prevent the decay of cooperation. In these cases, punishment opportunities reduce welfare. The results suggest that the experimenter's choice of the punishment effectiveness is of great importance for the experimental outcome.
Article
In a team subject to both adverse selection (each member's ability is known only to himself) and moral hazard (effort cannot be observed), optimal contracts are, under certain conditions, linear in the team's output. The outcome is the same whether the principal observes just the total output or each individual's contribution. Thus, monitoring is not needed to prevent shirking by team members; instead, the role of monitoring is to discipline the monitor. Copyright 1991 by Economics Department of the University of Pennsylvania and the Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association.
Article
While many experiments demonstrate that the actual behavior is different than predicted behavior, they have not shown that economic reasoning is necessarily incorrect. Instead, these experiments illustrate that the problem with homo economicus is that his preferences have been mis-specified. Modeled with social preferences, agents who forgo material gains can often be called rational. The current experiment illustrates this point with an example. Assuming self-interested agents, punishment is not credible in social dilemmas, yet people are often willing to incur costs to punish free riders. Despite this seeming irrationality, we show that these same people react to changes in the price of punishing and income as if punishment was an ordinary and normal good.
Article
Agency theory assumes that tighter monitoring by the principal should motivate agents to increase their effort, whereas the "crowding-out" literature suggests that the opposite may occur. These two assertions are not necessarily contradictory provided that the nature of the employment relationship is taken into account [Frey, B., 1993. Does monitoring increase work effort? The rivalry between trust and loyalty. Econ. Inquiry 31, 663-670]. Results from controlled laboratory experiments show that many principals engage in costly monitoring, and most agents react to the disciplining effect of monitoring by increasing effort. However, we also find some evidence that effort is crowded out when monitoring is above a certain threshold. We identify that both interpersonal principal-agent links and concerns for the distribution of output payoff are important for the emergence of this crowding-out effect.
Article
Corruption in the public sector erodes tax compliance and leads to higher tax evasion. Moreover, corrupt public officials abuse their public power to extort bribes from the private agents. In both types of interaction with the public sector, the private agents are bound to face uncertainty with respect to their disposable incomes. To analyse effects of this uncertainty, a stochastic dynamic growth model with the public sector is examined. It is shown that deterministic excessive red tape and corruption deteriorate the growth potential through income redistribution and public sector inefficiencies. Most importantly, it is demonstrated that the increase in corruption via higher uncertainty exerts adverse effects on capital accumulation, thus leading to lower growth rates.
Article
This paper concerns moral hazard problems in multiagent situations where cooperation is an issue. Each agent allocates effort to his own task and to other tasks as "help." The principal may prefer an unambiguous division of labor by inducing each agent to specialize in his own task, or prefer teamwork where each agent is motivated to help other agents. A sufficient condition for teamwork to be optimal is presented. A nonconvexity of the optimal task structure is also shown: the principal wants either strict specialization or substantial teamwork. Copyright 1991 by The Econometric Society.
Article
Experimental research on individual decision-making with respect to effort is an important stream in management accounting research. There are two different concepts to operate effort in laboratory experiments, real effort, where participants are asked to perform an experimental task and chosen effort, where costs are used as a proxy for effort. Whereas chosen effort is a very abstract but clean way of operating effort, real effort experiments always need a proxy, i.e., a performance measure, for effort. In addition, it seems that skills and a utility from work have important impacts on the outcomes of real effort experiments. We examine the equivalence of the two concepts of effort in experiments. More specific, we examine whether there are differences in effort levels between chosen effort and real effort, and investigate whether reciprocal behavior is overstated under chosen effort compared to real effort, where participants may derive a utility from work. Results support previous findings on reciprocity and indicate that participants do not react very different under real effort compared to a chosen effort setting. In particular, participants derive a utility from work, shown by generally higher levels of effort under real effort, but people do not act less reciprocal. Our findings thus show that both experimental methods, chosen effort and real effort, are appropriate ways of operating effort in experiments.
Article
The principle that it is better to let some guilty individuals be set free than to mistakenly convict an innocent person is generally shared by legal scholars, judges and lawmakers of modern societies. The paper shows why this common trait of criminal procedure is also efficient. It extends the standard Polinsky and Shavell (2007) model of deterrence and shows that when the costs of convictions are positive, and guilty individuals are more likely to be convicted than innocent individuals it is always efficient to minimize the number of wrongful convictions, while a more than minimal amount of wrongful acquittals may be optimal.
Article
People can become less cooperative when threatened with sanctions, and previous research suggests both "intentions" and incentives underlie this effect. We report data from an experiment aimed at determining the relative importance of intentions and incentives in producing non-cooperative behavior. Participants play a one-shot investment experiment in pairs. Investors send an amount to trustees, request a return on this investment and, in some treatments, can threaten sanctions to enforce their requests. Decisions by trustees facing threats imposed (or not) by investors are compared to decisions by trustees facing threats imposed (or not) by nature. When not threatened, trustees typically decide to return a positive amount less than the investor requested. When threatened this decision becomes least common. If the request is large relative to the sanction then most trustees return nothing. If the request is small, trustees typically return the requested amount. These results do not vary with investors' intentions.
Article
Standard game theoretic models predict, based on subgame perfection, that public goods will not be provided even if agents are allowed to monitor free riders at some cost. Further, because punishment is not credible in these environments, this prediction is invariant to the size of groups. However, there is now substantial evidence that people are reciprocally motivated and will punish free riders, regardless of the material costs of doing so. To examine the implications of reciprocally-minded agents, we simulate an environment populated with the behavioral strategies often seen in the experimental lab and use the simulation to develop hypotheses that are more specific about why group size should matter when sanctions are allowed. We then test these hypotheses experimentally using the voluntary contribution mechanism. We examine whether the effect of group members or if information about other group members is what is important. We find large groups provide public goods at levels no less than small groups because punishment does not fall in large groups. However, hindrances to monitoring do reduce the provision of the public good.
Article
Much of the existing theory of incentives describes a static relationship that lasts for just one transaction. This static assumption is not only unrealistic, but the resulting predictions appear to be at odds with many work organizations. The current paper introduces possible long-term interaction among agents, and studies how the design of explicit incentives and work organizations can exploit, and interact with, the implicit incentives generated by the repeated interaction of the agents. The optimal incentive scheme is shown to display observed features of the increasingly popular "teams," such as the use of low-powered, group incentives.
Article
Over the last decades, there has been a steady increase in the use of experimental methods in economics. We discuss the advantages of experiments for labour economics in this paper. Control is the most important asset behind running experiments; no other empirical method allows a similarly tight control as do experiments. Moreover, experiments produce replicable evidence and permit the implementation of truly exogenous ceteris paribus changes. We also discuss frequent objections to experiments, such as a potential subject pool bias, the stake levels used in experiments, the number of observations as well as internal and external validity. We argue that although these objections are important, careful experimentation can circumvent them. While we think that lab and field experiments offer a very valuable tool, they should not be viewed as substitutes but as complements to more traditional methods of empirical economic analysis.
Dynamic Methods and Applications, Essays in Honor of Charles S. Tapiero
  • El Ouardighi F
Feedback and incentives: experimental evidence
  • Eriksson