Discussion paper

DP2281 Teamwork Management in an Era of Diminishing Commitment

This paper studies management when the principal has different degrees of commitment power. In a model in which both the principal and agents are symmetrically uncertain about the agents' innate abilities, implicit incentives arise when the principal is not able to commit herself to long-term contracts. The presence of implicit incentives makes the agents more reluctant to behave cooperatively (they actually have incentives to 'sabotage' their colleagues). This forces the principal to offer more 'collectively oriented' incentive schemes than in the presence of commitment, in order to induce the desired level of cooperation. Moreover, teamwork exposes agents to higher risks than the ones they are exposed to in a Taylorist workplace. We find that the optimal team size is constrained by risk considerations, and is decreasing in the uncertainty of the production technology and in the time horizon of the team.


Friebel, G, E Auriol and L Pechlivanos (1999), ‘DP2281 Teamwork Management in an Era of Diminishing Commitment‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2281. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp2281