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The intrinsic value of decision rights


Bartling, Björn; Fehr, Ernst; Herz, Holger (2014). The intrinsic value of decision rights. Econometrica, 82(6):2005-2039.

Abstract

Philosophers, psychologists, and economists have long argued that certain decision rights carry not only instrumental value but may also be valuable for their own sake. The ideas of autonomy, freedom, and liberty derive their intuitive appeal—at least partly—from an assumed positive intrinsic value of decision rights. Providing clean evidence for the existence of this intrinsic value and measuring its size, however, is intricate. Here, we develop a method capable of achieving these goals. The data reveal that the large majority of our subjects intrinsically value decision rights beyond their instrumental benefit. The intrinsic valuation of decision rights has potentially important consequences for corporate governance, human resource management, and optimal job design: it may explain why managers value power, why employees appreciate jobs with task discretion, why individuals sort into self-employment, and why the reallocation of decision rights is often very difficult and cumbersome. Our method and results may also prove useful in developing an empirical revealed preference foundation for concepts such as “freedom of choice” and “individual autonomy.”

Abstract

Philosophers, psychologists, and economists have long argued that certain decision rights carry not only instrumental value but may also be valuable for their own sake. The ideas of autonomy, freedom, and liberty derive their intuitive appeal—at least partly—from an assumed positive intrinsic value of decision rights. Providing clean evidence for the existence of this intrinsic value and measuring its size, however, is intricate. Here, we develop a method capable of achieving these goals. The data reveal that the large majority of our subjects intrinsically value decision rights beyond their instrumental benefit. The intrinsic valuation of decision rights has potentially important consequences for corporate governance, human resource management, and optimal job design: it may explain why managers value power, why employees appreciate jobs with task discretion, why individuals sort into self-employment, and why the reallocation of decision rights is often very difficult and cumbersome. Our method and results may also prove useful in developing an empirical revealed preference foundation for concepts such as “freedom of choice” and “individual autonomy.”

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8 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Decision rights, authority, private benefits of control
Language:English
Date:November 2014
Deposited On:20 Jan 2015 16:24
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 10:51
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0012-9682
Additional Information:The copyright to this article is held by the Econometric Society, http://www.econometricsociety.org/. It may be downloaded, printed and reproduced only for personal or classroom use. Absolutely no downloading or copying may be done for, or on behalf of, any for-profit commercial firm or other commercial purpose without the explicit permission of the Econometric Society. For this purpose, contact Claire Sashi, General Manager, at sashi@econometricsociety.org.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3982/ECTA11573
Related URLs:http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-77758

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