Payment for performance is widely embraced as a key component of any well-designed executive compensation package. There is a price to be paid however, from the heavy reliance on incentives as a way to control agent behavior. In particular, evidence exists demonstrating that incentives can crowd out an agent’s social preferences towards her principal. Social preferences are pro-social tendencies of people to do things for others for reasons such as fairness, reciprocity, altruism, and ethical or moral beliefs. The use of incentives in compensation can result in self-interested agents. When crowding out occurs, in order to elicit the desired level of performance, principals may need to increase the level of incentive employed. Crowding out therefore provides an additional account for rising levels of executive compensation.
Corporation and Enterprise Law | Economics | Law and Economics
Date of this Version
Nina Walton, "Crowding Theory and Executive Compensation" (August 2011). University of Southern California Law and Economics Working Paper Series. Working Paper 133.