February 2009

IZA DP No. 4039: Coordination under the Shadow of Career Concerns

Alexander K. Koch, Albrecht Morgenstern

To innovate, employees need to develop novel ideas and coordinate with each other to turn these ideas into better products and services. Work outcomes provide signals about employees' abilities to the labor market, and therefore career concerns arise. These can both be 'good' (enhancing incentives for effort in developing ideas) and 'bad' (preventing voluntary coordination). Our model shows how the firm designs its explicit incentive system and organizes work processes to take these conflicting forces into account. The comparative statics results suggest a link between the increased use of teams and recent changes in labor market returns to skills.