Managing team coordination incentives: the effect of payoff differentials

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Purpose: The current paper aims to present a formal model illustrating how payoff imbalances among the members of a team of decision makers (DMs) who must undertake a project condition the final outcome obtained. This result builds on the fact that payoffs imbalances would lead to different performance levels among the employees and managers who compose a team. The analysis is applied to a strategic environment, where a project requiring coordination among the DMs within the team must be developed.

Design/methodology/approach: The intuition behind the strategic framework on which the results are based is twofold. The authors build on the literature on social comparisons and assume that employees and managers acquire information on the payoffs received by other members of the team while being affected by the resulting comparisons, and they follow the economic literature on firm boundaries determined via incomplete contracts. In this case, employees and managers may underperform if they feel aggrieved by the outcome of the contract giving place to deadweight losses when developing the project.

Findings: The authors illustrate how a team-based performance reward structure may lead to a coordinated equilibrium even when team managers and employees receive different payoffs and exhibit shading incentives based on the payoff differentials between them. The authors will also illustrate how identical shading intensities by both groups of DMs imply that shading by the managers imposes a lower cost on the profit structure of the firm because it leads to a lower decrease in the cooperation incentives of the other members of the team. Finally, the authors show how differences in shading intensity between both types of DMs trigger a strategic defect mechanism within the team that determines the outcome of the project.

Originality/value: The novel environment of team cooperation and defection through shading introduced in this paper is designed to deal with the strategic decisions taken by DMs when undertaking a project within a group. In particular, the intensity of shading applied by the DMs will be endogenously determined by the relative payoffs received, which allows to account for different scenarios, where relative payoff differentials among DMs determine the outcome of the project.




Tavana, M., Di Caprio, D. and Santos-Arteaga, F.J. (2016) ‘Managing Team Coordination Incentives: The Effect of Payoff Differentials,’ Journal of CENTRUM Cathedra: The Business and Economics Research Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 52-70.