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The Hidden Cost of Specialization

Fabio Landini (), Antonio Nicolo' () and Marco Piovesan ()

No 2013/9, IFRO Working Paper from University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics

Abstract: Given the advantages of specialization, employers encourage their employees to acquire distinct expertise to better satisfy clients’ needs. However, when the client is unaware of the employees’ expertise and cannot be sorted out to the most competent employee by means of a gatekeeper, a mismatch can occur. In this paper we attempt to identify the optimal condition so an employer can eliminate this mismatch and offer a team bonus that provides the first-contacted employee with an incentive to refer the client to the correct expert. We show that the profitability of this referral contract increases with the agents’ degree of specialization and decreases with the clients’ competence at identifying the correct expert. Interestingly, a referral contract may be more profitable than an individual contract -that does not pay a team bonus- even if the former provides less incentive to the agents to improve their expertise. Thus, we provide a new rationale for the use of team bonuses even when the production function depends on a single employee’s effort.

Keywords: Team and Individual Contracts; Matching Client-Expert; Incentives to Refer (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 D01 D21 D86 M52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cta, nep-gth, nep-hrm, nep-lab and nep-mic
Date: 2013-04
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