Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Delegated Job Design

Author(s): Hans K Hvide and Todd Kaplan

Publication Date: April 2003

Keyword(s): career concerns, delegation, discretion, peter principle and sun hydraulics

Programme Area(s): Labour Economics

Abstract: Why do firms delegate job design decisions to workers, and what are the implications of such delegation? We develop a private-information based theory of delegation, where delegation enables high-ability workers to signal their ability by choosing difficult tasks. Such signalling provides a more efficient allocation of talent inside the firm, but at the cost that low-ability workers must be compensated to be willing to self-sort. Career concerns put a limit to the efficiency of delegation: when market observability of job content is high, the compensation needed to get low ability workers to self-sort is high, and firms limit delegation to avoid cream-skimming of the high-ability workers. We investigate implications of the theory for how misallocation of talent within firms may occur and to the design optimal incentive contracts.

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Bibliographic Reference

Hvide, H and Kaplan, T. 2003. 'Delegated Job Design'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.