Screening, Competition, and Job Design: Economic Origins of Good Jobs

46 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2010

See all articles by Björn Bartling

Björn Bartling

University of Zurich - Department of Economics; Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Klaus M. Schmidt

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Abstract

In recent decades, many firms offered more discretion to their employees, often increasing the productivity of effort but also leaving more opportunities for shirking. These "high-performance work systems" are difficult to understand in terms of standard moral hazard models. We show experimentally that complementarities between high effort discretion, rent-sharing, screening opportunities, and competition are important driving forces behind these new forms of work organization. We document in particular the endogenous emergence of two fundamentally distinct types of employment strategies. Employers either implement a control strategy, which consists of low effort discretion and little or no rent-sharing, or they implement a trust strategy, which stipulates high effort discretion and substantial rent-sharing. If employers cannot screen employees, the control strategy prevails, while the possibility of screening renders the trust strategy profitable. The introduction of competition substantially fosters the trust strategy, reduces market segmentation, and leads to large welfare gains for both employers and employees.

Keywords: job design, high-performance work systems, screening, reputation, competition, trust, control, social preferences, complementarities

JEL Classification: C91, D86

Suggested Citation

Bartling, Björn and Fehr, Ernst and Schmidt, Klaus M., Screening, Competition, and Job Design: Economic Origins of Good Jobs. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4710, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1545137

Björn Bartling (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Blümlisalpstrasse 10
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland
+41 1 634 3709 (Phone)
+41 1 634 4907 (Fax)

Klaus M. Schmidt

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany
+49 89 2180 3405 (Phone)
+49 89 2180 3510 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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