Abstract - Economics Research Reports


Team Incentives and Organizational Form

By Al Slivinski (University of Western Ontario)

March, 2000

Conventional wisdom regarding nonprofit firms is that they are inefficient, due to the absence of a profit motive. However, the costs and product quality realized by profit- aking firms is determined by how well those firms deal with a host of internal incentive and information issues. A similar approach to the study of nonprofit organizations has not been attempted. This paper undertakes such an investigation, centered on the problem of providing incentives for members of a team to provide efficient effort. Holmstrom(1982) showed that the introduction of a budget-breaker, or principal, into a team allowed for the provision of such incentives where it would otherwise be impossible. A similar result obtains for a nonprofit team, but the role of principal differs from that found in profit-taking teams. It is shown that any of; donors, government regulators, or Trustees can fulfill this role in a nonprofit team. One implication of this is that nonprofit firms may indeed pay employees less than otherwise identical employees filling identical posts in profit-taking firms.

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