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Encouraging others: punishment and performance in the Royal Navy


Voth, Hans-Joachim; Xu, Guo (2020). Encouraging others: punishment and performance in the Royal Navy. CEPR Discussion Papers 14476, Centre for Economic Policy Research.

Abstract

Can severe penalties ”encourage the others”? Using the famous case of the British Admiral John Byng, executed for his failure to recapture French-held Menorca in 1757, we examine the incentive effects of judicial punishments. Men related to Byng performed markedly better after his unexpected death. We generalize this result using information from 963 court martials. Battle performance of captains related to a court-martialed and convicted officer improved sharply thereafter. The loss of influential connections was key for incentive effects - officers with other important connections improved little after Byng’s execution or other severe sentences.

Abstract

Can severe penalties ”encourage the others”? Using the famous case of the British Admiral John Byng, executed for his failure to recapture French-held Menorca in 1757, we examine the incentive effects of judicial punishments. Men related to Byng performed markedly better after his unexpected death. We generalize this result using information from 963 court martials. Battle performance of captains related to a court-martialed and convicted officer improved sharply thereafter. The loss of influential connections was key for incentive effects - officers with other important connections improved little after Byng’s execution or other severe sentences.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Principal agent problems, punishment, labor incentives
Language:English
Date:8 March 2020
Deposited On:05 Feb 2021 08:45
Last Modified:05 Feb 2021 08:47
Series Name:CEPR Discussion Papers
Number of Pages:30
ISSN:0265-8003
OA Status:Green
Official URL:https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14476#

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