Jenny Kragl

I compare group to individual performance pay when workers are envious and performance is nonverifiable. Avoiding payoff inequity, the group reward scheme is optimal as long as the firm faces no credibility problem. The individual reward scheme may, however, become superior albeit introducing the prospect of unequal pay. This is due to two reasons: Group incentives are relatively low-powered compared to individual incentives, requiring higher incentive pay and impeding credibility of the firm. Moreover, with individual rewards, the firm benefits from the incentive-strengthening effect of envy, allowing for yet smaller overall incentive pay and further softening the credibility constraint. I also show that contracts combining both individual and group rewards are often optimal, depending on the firm’s credibility problem. These contracts include joint and relative performance pay schemes.