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A General Test for Distortions in Performance Measures

Pascal Courty () and Gerald Marschke ()

The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2008, vol. 90, issue 3, 428-441

Abstract: Results from the incentive literature suggest that performance measures are often distorted, eliciting dysfunctional and unintended responses. The existence of these responses, however, is difficult to demonstrate in practice because this behavior is typically hidden from the researcher. We present a simple model showing that one can test for the existence of distortions by estimating the change in the association between a performance measure and the true goal of the organization with the measure's introduction. Using data from a public-sector organization, we find evidence consistent with the existence of distortions. We draw implications for the selection of performance measures. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Date: 2008
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The Review of Economics and Statistics is currently edited by Amitabh Chandra, Olivier Coibion, Bryan S. Graham, Shachar Kariv, Amit K. Khandelwal, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Brigitte C. Madrian and Rohini Pande

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