Economic models of incentives in employment relationships are based on a specific theory of motivation: employees are "rational cheaters," who anticipate the consequences of their actions and shirk when the marginal benefits exceed costs. We investigate the "rational cheater model" by observing how experimentally induced variation in monitoring of telephone call center employees influences opportunism. A significant fraction of employees behave as the "rational cheater model" predicts. A substantial proportion of employees, however, do not respond to manipulations in the monitoring rate. This heterogeneity is related to variation in employee assessments of their general treatment by the employer.
Ratio of suspicious bad calls to good calls.
A sizable fraction of employees behave in accordance with a "rational cheater model": employees respond to a reduction in monitoring by quickly and sharply increasing the rate at which they engage in cheating / shirking. However, many employees do not exploit reductions in monitoring to their own advantage. Evidence indicates that the employees who responded to reductions in monitoring tended to be those who perceived the employer as unfair or uncaring. In terms of the ratio of bad calls to good calls, the estimated difference in employee response between opportunistic employees and those not inclined to shirk, is 78%.