Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal–Agent Model

Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal–Agent Model

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 effort on both tasks with substantial bonuses. Agents anticipate this and provide high effort 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 behavior contradicts the self-interest theory but is consistent with theories of fairness.

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Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal–Agent Model

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