Do performance-related pay and financial
participation schemes have an effect on firms’ performance?
A growing number of firms offer compensation
packages that link pay to performance. The aim is to motivate workers to be
more efficient while also increasing their attachment to the company,
thereby reducing turnover and absenteeism. The effects of
performance-related pay on productivity depend on the scheme type and
design, with individual incentives showing the largest effect. Governments
often offer tax breaks and financial incentives to promote
performance-related pay, though their desirability has been questioned due
to large deadweight losses involved. The diffusion of remote work will
increase the relevance of performance-related pay.
To what extent can different attitudes toward
competition for men and women explain the gender gap in labor markets?
Differences in labor market outcomes for
women and men are highly persistent. Apart from discrimination, one
frequently mentioned explanation could be differences in the attitude toward
competition for both genders. Abundant empirical evidence indicates that
multiple influences shape attitudes toward competition during different
periods of the life cycle. Gender differences in competitiveness will not
only influence outcomes during working age, but also during early childhood
education. In order to reduce the gender gap in educational and labor market
outcomes, it is crucial to understand when and why gender gaps in
competitiveness arise and to study their consequences.
A bidirectional relationship between
informality and inequality exists; in transition and emerging countries,
higher informality decreases inequality
Higher inequality reduces capital
accumulation and increases the informal economy, which creates additional
employment opportunities for low-skilled and deprived people. As a result,
informal employment leads to beneficial effects on income distribution by
providing sources of income for unemployed and marginalized workers. Despite
this positive feedback, informality raises problems for public finances and
biases official statistics, reducing the effectiveness of redistributive
policies. Policymakers should consider the links between inequality and
informality because badly designed informality-reducing policies may
Lessons from sports can allow managers to
develop better policies at “normal” workplaces
Economic theory has many predictions regarding
how workers should be paid and how workplaces should be organized. However,
economists’ attempts to test these in the real world have been hampered by a
lack of consistent information about workers’ productivity levels.
Professional sports offer a potential solution, since the performance of
individual sportspeople is easily observed and yet many of the same problems
faced by managers in workplaces still apply. In many ways, sportspeople may
be less atypical of the modern workforce than farm laborers, doctors, or
other groups of workers that are often scrutinized by economists.
Individual bonuses do not always raise
performance; it depends on the characteristics of the job
Economists have for a long time argued that
performance-based bonuses raise performance. Indeed, many firms use bonuses
tied to individual performance to motivate their employees. However, there
has been heated debate among human resources professionals recently, and
some firms have moved away from individual performance bonuses toward fixed
wages only or collective performance incentive schemes such as
profit-sharing or team incentives. The appropriate approach depends on each
company's unique situation, and managers need to realize that individual
bonus plans are not a panacea to motivate employees.
Workers care about employers’ social causes, but
the public sector does not attract particularly motivated employees
Employees are more willing to work and put
effort in for an employer that genuinely promotes the greater good. Some are
also willing to give up part of their compensation to contribute to a social
cause they share. Being able to attract a motivated workforce is
particularly important for the public sector, where performance is usually
more difficult to measure, but this goal remains elusive. Paying people more
or underlining the career opportunities (as opposed to the social aspects)
associated with public sector jobs is instrumental in attracting a more
productive workforce, while a proper selection process may mitigate the
negative impact on intrinsic motivation.
The efficacy of hiring strategies hinges on a
firm’s simultaneous use of other policies
When an employer fills a vacancy with one of
its own workers (through promotion or horizontal transfer), it forgoes the
opportunity to fill the position with a new hire from outside the firm.
Although firms use both internal and external hiring methods, they
frequently favor insiders. Internal and external hires differ in observable
characteristics (such as skill levels), as do the employers making the
hiring decisions. Understanding those differences helps employers design and
manage hiring policies that are appropriate for their organizations.
Despite major efforts at equal pay legislation,
gender pay inequality still exists—how can this be put right?
Despite equal pay legislation dating back 50
years, American women still earn 18% less than their male counterparts. In
the UK, with its Equal Pay Act of 1970, and France, which legislated in
1972, the gap is 17% and 10% respectively, and in Australia it remains
around 14%. Interestingly, the gender pay gap is relatively small for the
young but increases as men and women grow older. Similarly, it is large when
comparing married men and women, but smaller for singles. Just what can
explain these wage patterns? And what can governments do to speed up wage
convergence to close the gender pay gap? Clearly, the gender pay gap
continues to be an important policy issue.
Increased competition affects the pay incentives
firms provide to their managers and may also affect overall pay
Deregulation and managerial compensation are two
important topics on the political and academic agenda. The former has been a
significant policy recommendation in light of the negative effects
associated with overly restrictive regulation on markets and the economy.
The latter relates to the sharp increase in top executives’ pay and the
nature of the link between pay and performance. To the extent that
product-market competition can affect the incentive schemes offered by firms
to their executives, the analysis of the effects of competition on the
structure of compensation can be informative for policy purposes.
CEO pay, often contentious, is the product of
The escalation in chief executive officer (CEO)
pay over recent decades, both in absolute terms and in relation to the
earnings of production workers, has generated considerable attention. The
pay of top executives has grown noticeably in relation to overall firm
profitability. The pay gap between CEOs in the US and those in other
developed countries narrowed substantially during the 2000s, making top
executive pay an international concern. Researchers have taken positions on
both sides of the debate over whether the level of CEO pay is economically
justified or is the result of managerial power.