The Credibility of Performance Feedback in Tournaments

The Credibility of Performance Feedback in Tournaments

September 17,2014Working Paper No. 3293

This paper studies the effect of performance feedback on tournament outcomes, when a possibly dishonest principal may manipulate the agents’ expectations to stimulate their effort. Under plausible circumstances, an increase in the principal’s propensity to tell the truth (i.e., integrity) induces a mean preserving spread in the distribution of effort and leads to a decrease in expected profits and welfare. More generally, I identify conditions under which a lower integrity can improve the effectiveness of financial incentives in inducing the agents’ effort, thus leading to higher expected profits for the principal.