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Optimal contracting with endogenous project mission


Cassar, Lea (2014). Optimal contracting with endogenous project mission. Working paper series / Department of Economics 150, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Empirical evidence shows that workers care about the mission of their job in addition to their wage. This suggests that employers can use the job mission to incentivize and screen their workers. I study a model in which a principal selects an agent to develop a project and influences the agent's ex post level of effort not by outcome-contingent rewards, but by the choice of the project mission. The principal's and the agents' preferences about the mission are misaligned and the degree to which an agent cares about the mission is private information. I derive the optimal mechanism (allocation rule, project mission, payment) to select and motivate the agent. I show that under the optimal mechanism the project mission is distorted towards the principal's ideal mission compared to the full information optimum. As a consequence, effort is lower. If the mission must be chosen prior to the allocation of the project, competition brings the principal to align the mission more with the agent's preferences, which increases his effort. Finally, in the presence of budget constraints, the principal should offer the same mission and the same payment to all types of agents. Several applications and links to the empirical evidence are discussed.

Abstract

Empirical evidence shows that workers care about the mission of their job in addition to their wage. This suggests that employers can use the job mission to incentivize and screen their workers. I study a model in which a principal selects an agent to develop a project and influences the agent's ex post level of effort not by outcome-contingent rewards, but by the choice of the project mission. The principal's and the agents' preferences about the mission are misaligned and the degree to which an agent cares about the mission is private information. I derive the optimal mechanism (allocation rule, project mission, payment) to select and motivate the agent. I show that under the optimal mechanism the project mission is distorted towards the principal's ideal mission compared to the full information optimum. As a consequence, effort is lower. If the mission must be chosen prior to the allocation of the project, competition brings the principal to align the mission more with the agent's preferences, which increases his effort. Finally, in the presence of budget constraints, the principal should offer the same mission and the same payment to all types of agents. Several applications and links to the empirical evidence are discussed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:H41, D23, D82, M52
Uncontrolled Keywords:Optimal contracting, non-monetary incentives, mission preferences, intrinsic motivation
Language:English
Date:October 2014
Deposited On:25 Mar 2014 11:18
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 04:52
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:47
ISSN:1664-7041
Additional Information:Revised version
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp/econwp150.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/workingpapers.php

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