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Does Monitoring Decrease Work Effort?

David Dickinson and Marie Claire Villeval ()

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Abstract: Agency theory assumes that tighter monitoring by the principal should motivate agents to increase their effort, whereas the "crowding-out" literature suggests that the opposite may occur. These two assertions are not necessarily contradictory provided that the nature of the employment relationship is taken into account (Frey 1993). Results from controlled laboratory experiments show that many principals engage in costly monitoring, and most agents react to the disciplining effect of monitoring by increasing effort. However, we also find some evidence that effort is crowded out when monitoring is above a certain threshold. We identify that both interpersonal principal/agent links and concerns for the distribution of output payoff are important for the emergence of this crowding-out effect.

Keywords: principal-agent theory; monitoring; crowding-out; motivation; real effort experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00276284
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Published in Games and Economic Behavior / Games and Economic Behaviour, 2008, 63 (1), pp. 56-76

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