An experiment on markets and contracts : do social preferences determine corporate culture?

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This paper reports experimental evidence on a stylized labor market. The experiment is designed as a sequence of three treatments. In the last treatment, TR3, four principals, who face four teams of two agents, compete by offering the agents a contract from a fixed menu. In this menu, each contract is the optimal solution of a (complete information) mechanism design problem where principals face agents’ who have social (i.e. interdependent) distributional preferences a’ la Fehr and Schmidt [19] with a specific parametrization. Each agent selects one of the available contracts offered by the principals (i.e. he “chooses to work” for a principal). Production is determined by the outcome of a simple effort game induced by the chosen contract. In the first two treatments, TR1 and TR2, we estimate individual social preference parameters and beliefs in the effort game, respectively. We find that social preferences are significant determinants of the matching process between labor supply and demand in the market stage, as well as principals’ and agents’ contract and effort decisions. In addition, we also see that social preferences explain the matching process in the labor market, as agents display a higher propensity to choose to work for a principal with similar distributional preferences.
Social preferences, Team incentives, Mechanism design, Experimental economics
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