Hidden costs of control: four repetitions and an extension

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    We report four repetitions of Falk and Kosfeld's (Am. Econ. Rev. 96(5):1611-1630, 2006) low and medium control treatments with 476 subjects. Each repetition employs a sample drawn from a standard subject pool of students and demographics vary across samples. We largely confirm the existence of hidden costs of control but, contrary to the original study, hidden costs of control are usually not substantial enough to significantly undermine the effectiveness of economic incentives. Our subjects were asked, at the end of the experimental session, to complete a questionnaire in which they had to state their work motivation in hypothetical scenarios. Our questionnaires are identical to the ones administered in Falk and Kosfeld's (Am. Econ. Rev. 96(5):1611-1630, 2006) questionnaire study. In contrast to the game play data, our questionnaire data are similar to those of the original questionnaire study. In an attempt to solve this puzzle, we report an extension with 228 subjects where performance-contingent earnings are absent i.e. both principals and agents are paid according to a flat participation fee. We observe that hidden costs significantly outweigh benefits of control under hypothetical incentives.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages18
    Pages (from-to)323-340
    JournalExperimental economics
    Journal publication dateJun 2012
    Issue number2
    Volume15
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

    ID: 2531481