April 2013

IZA DP No. 7363: Altruism and Relational Incentives in the Workplace

published in: Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 2015, 24(3), 485-500

This paper studies how altruism between managers and employees affects relational incentive contracts. To this end we develop a simple dynamic principal-agent model where both players may have feelings of altruism or spite toward each other. The con- tract may contain two types of incentives for the agent to work hard: a bonus and a threat of dismissal. We find that altruism undermines the credibility of a threat of dis- missal but strengthens the credibility of a bonus. Among others, these two mechanisms imply that higher altruism sometimes leads to higher bonuses, while lower altruism may increase productivity and players utility in equilibrium.