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Monitoring, Motivation, and Management: The Determinants of Opportunistic Behavior in a Field Experiment

Daniel S. Nagin, James B. Rebitzer, Seth Sanders and Lowell J. Taylor
The American Economic Review
Vol. 92, No. 4 (Sep., 2002), pp. 850-873
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3083284
Page Count: 24
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Monitoring, Motivation, and Management: The Determinants of Opportunistic Behavior in a Field Experiment
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Abstract

Economic models of incentives in employment relationships are based on a specific theory of motivation: employees are "rational cheaters," who anticipate the consequences of their actions and shirk when the marginal benefits exceed costs. We investigate the "rational cheater model" by observing how experimentally induced variation in monitoring of telephone call center employees influences opportunism. A significant fraction of employees behave as the "rational cheater model" predicts. A substantial proportion of employees, however, do not respond to manipulations in the monitoring rate. This heterogeneity is related to variation in employee assessments of their general treatment by the employer.

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