Limited intelligence and performance-based compensation: An agent-based model of the hidden action problem [article]

Patrick Reinwald, Stephan Leitner, Friederike Wall
2021 arXiv   pre-print
Models of economic decision makers often include idealized assumptions, such as rationality, perfect foresight, and access to all relevant pieces of information. These assumptions often assure the models' internal validity, but, at the same time, might limit the models' power to explain empirical phenomena. This paper is particularly concerned with the model of the hidden action problem, which proposes an optimal performance-based sharing rule for situations in which a principal assigns a task
more » ... o an agent, and the action taken to carry out this task is not observable by the principal. We follow the agentization approach and introduce an agent-based version of the hidden action problem, in which some of the idealized assumptions about the principal and the agent are relaxed so that they only have limited information access, are endowed with the ability to gain information, and store it in and retrieve it from their (limited) memory. We follow an evolutionary approach and analyze how the principal's and the agent's decisions affect the sharing rule, task performance, and their utility over time. The results indicate that the optimal sharing rule does not emerge. The principal's utility is relatively robust to variations in intelligence, while the agent's utility is highly sensitive to limitations in intelligence. The principal's behavior appears to be driven by opportunism, as she withholds a premium from the agent to assure the optimal utility for herself.
arXiv:2107.03764v1 fatcat:afzrim4jynctzbplt7pvcxnwiu