Research Archive

Incentives and Group Identity

Paolo Masella, Stephan Meier, Philipp Zahn

Publication type: Journal article

Research Archive Topic: Leadership, Organizations, Strategy


This paper investigates in a principal-agent environment whether and how group membership influences the eff ectiveness of incentives and when incentives can have "hidden costs," i.e., a detrimental effect. We show experimentally that in all interactions control mechanisms can have hidden costs for reasons specifi c to group membership. In within-group interactions control has detrimental effects because the agent does not expect to be controlled and reacts negatively when being controlled. In between-group interactions, agents perceive control more hostile once we condition on their beliefs about principal's behavior. Our finding contributes to the micro-foundation of psychological eff ects of incentives.
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Masella, Paolo, Stephan Meier, and Philipp Zahn. "Incentives and Group Identity." Games and Economic Behavior 86 (July 2014): 12-25.

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