The effectiveness of alternative programs of management by objectives on firm performance : an experimental study

Rossi, Alessandro and Warglien, Massimo (1999) The effectiveness of alternative programs of management by objectives on firm performance : an experimental study. In «ROCK Working Papers», Università degli Studi di Trento. (Unpublished)

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    The research focuses on the use of laboratory experimentation in order to design an effective MBO program for the executives of the major Italian electric utility provider (Enel). A game theoretical formulation of the MBO program currently adopted by Enel is given (baseline model) and laboratory experiments are implemented to test (a) how experimental subjects behave within the stylized MBO program and (b) the relative effectiveness on subjects performance of the introduction of two different institutions (liability and tournament rules) governing the assignment of incentives. Results highlight that: 1) the baseline model resembles what has been observed in the field study: targets negotiated between principals and agents are easy to fulfill and a large majority of executives reach their own prize. 2) Liability rules increase the bargaining position of principals and result overall in higher levels of target assigned to agents and corresponding higher levels of performance of them; conversely no savings are observed in terms of cost of the MBO program. 3) Tournament rules allow to save more in MBO program costs; on the other side performance are, on average, similar to the baseline and variance is higher since the population splits into two sub{groups where a majority of agents shows performance levels close to the case of the liability rule while a minority of them shirk and decrease their working effort until the minimal performance. Some indications on the use of laboratory experimentation as a tool of organizational design are finally suggested.

    Item Type: Article in journal
    Department or Research center: Computer and management sciences
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5549 Personnel Management
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Managerial compensation - agency theory - target based compensation - tournaments - experimental economics
    Repository staff approval on: 14 Jan 2011

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