Experimental Economics

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 241–253 | Cite as

On the incentive effects of monitoring: evidence from the lab and the field

  • Amadou BolyEmail author


Several experimental studies have shown that the crowding-out effect of monitoring may outweigh its disciplining effect through intrinsic motivation destruction, thereby reducing effort. However, most of these experiments use numeric effort tasks that subjects may not be intrinsically motivated to complete. This paper aims to analyze the incentive effects of monitoring using a real-effort task for which intrinsic motivation is more likely to exist. We conducted two similar experiments, in the lab in Montreal and in the field in Ouagadougou. In contrast to the lab, subjects in the field are unaware they are taking part in an experiment.

The following results are observed both in the lab and in the field. Relative to the baseline treatment, we find that our two monitoring treatments significantly increase effort, in line with agency theory. However, effort levels are not significantly different between the monitoring treatments. Finally, increasing the subjects’ wage is found to have no effect on effort.


Experimental economics Monitoring Crowding-out effect 

JEL Classification

C9 J2 M5 


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Supplementary material

10683_2010_9265_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (39 kb)
On the Incentive Effects of Monitoring: Evidence from the Lab and the Field. (pdf 39.3 KB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development Policy and Strategic Research Branch, United Nations Industrial Development OrganizationVienna International CenterViennaAustria

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