Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-Task Principle-Agent Model

Author(s): Ernst Fehr and Klaus M. Schmidt

Publication Date: June 2004

Keyword(s): experiments, fairness, incentives, moral hazard and multiple tasks

Programme Area(s): Industrial Organization

Abstract: This Paper reports on a two-task principal-agent experiment in which only one task is contractible. The principal can either offer a piece-rate contract or a (voluntary) bonus to the agent. Bonus contracts strongly outperform piece rate contracts. Many principals reward high efforts on both tasks with substantial bonuses. Agents anticipate this and provide high efforts on both tasks. In contrast, almost all agents with a piece-rate contract focus on the first task and disregard the second. Principals understand this and predominantly offer bonus contracts. This behaviour contradicts the self-interest theory but is consistent with theories of fairness.

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Bibliographic Reference

Fehr, E and Schmidt, K. 2004. 'Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-Task Principle-Agent Model'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.