February 2010

IZA DP No. 4782: Reciprocity and Incentive Pay in the Workplace

published in: Journal of Economic Psychology, 2010, 31 (4), 676-686

We study optimal incentive contracts for workers who are reciprocal to management attention. When neither worker's effort nor manager's attention can be contracted, a double moral-hazard problem arises, implying that reciprocal workers should be given weak financial incentives. In a multiple-agent setting, this problem can be resolved using promotion incentives. We empirically examine these predictions using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. We find that workers who are more reciprocal are significantly more likely to receive promotion incentives, while there is no such relation for individual bonus pay.