Omar Al-Ubaydli, John A List, Danielle LoRe, Dana L Suskind
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Omar Al-Ubaydli, Uri Gneezy, John A List, Min Sok Lee
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A stylized fact is that agents respond more acutely to negative than positive stimuli. Such findings have generated insights on mechanism-design, have been featured prominently in policymaking, and more generally have led to discussions of whether preferences are defined over consumption levels or changes in consumption. This study reconsiders this stylized fact. In doing so, it provides insights into an important domain wherein positive stimuli induce a greater response than negative stimuli: a principal-agent game with reputational considerations and with the agent on the market's short end. This common setting represents an important feature of labor markets with involuntary unemployment.
Omar Al-Ubaydli, Steffen Andersen, Uri Gneezy, John A List
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Constructing compensation schemes for effort in multi-dimensional tasks is complex, particularly when some dimensions are not easily observable. When incentive schemes contractually reward workers for easily observed measures, such as quantity produced, the standard model predicts that unrewarded dimensions, such as quality, will be neglected. Yet, there remains mixed empirical evidence in favor of this standard principal-agent model prediction. This paper reconciles the literature by using both theory and empirical evidence. The theory outlines conditions under which principals can use a piece rate scheme to induce higher quantity and quality levels than analogous fixed wage schemes. Making use of a series of complementary laboratory and field experiments we show that this effect occurs because the agent is uncertain about the principal's monitoring ability and the principal's choice of a piece rate signals to the agent that she is efficient at monitoring.
Omar Al-Ubaydli, John A List
Cited by*: 0 Downloads*: 60

A commonly held view is that laboratory experiments provide researchers with more "control" than natural field experiments, and that this advantage is to be balanced against the disadvantage that laboratory experiments are less generalizable. This paper presents a simple model that explores circumstances under which natural field experiments provide researchers with more control than laboratory experiments afford. This stems from the covertness of natural field experiments: laboratory experiments provide researchers with a high degree of control in the environment which participants agree to be experimental subjects. When participants systematically opt out of laboratory experiments, the researcher's ability to manipulate certain variables is limited. In contrast, natural field experiments bypass the participation decision altogether and allow for a potentially more diverse participant pool within the market of interest. We show one particular case where such selection is invaluable: when treatment effects interact with participant characteristics.