By GEORGE BAKER* The strength of incentives used in an organization and the productivity of employees that results from these incentives depend to a large degree on the characteristics of the performance measures available to the organization. Some employees work under high-powered explicit incentive contracts, while others have no explicit incentive contracts at all. The ability of agency theory to predict the pattern of incentive provision in organizations has not been very impressive, and the divergence between the prescriptions of agency theory and the actual practice of ï¬rms has been widely noted. This paper (along with both other papers in this session [Edward P. Lazear, 2000; Canice Prendergast, 2000]) attempts to ï¬ll some of the gap between theory and practice. I examine the characteristics of performance measures (those data on which explicit incentive contracts are based) to understand how ï¬rms use incentive contracting, and to predict the use of incentives in practice. I. Risk and Distortion in Performance Measures for Bâ (Steven Kerr, 1975 p. 769). The use of distorted performance measures induces gaming, noncooperative behavior, sabotage of coworkers, and generally unintended and dysfunctional consequences of all sorts in organizations. In a recent paper (Baker, 2000), I develop
American Economic Review – American Economic Association
Published: May 1, 2000
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