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Article

The "Sales Agent" Problem : Effort/Leisure Allocation under Performance Pay as Behavior towards Risk

Economic Inquiry. 2019. No. 57. P. 1997-2016.
Cadsby C. B., Song F., Zubanov N.

The choice between safe and risky assets represents behavior towards risk: more risk‐averse investors buy more safe assets. We develop and test a general model that applies this intuition to the time allocation between risky effort and risk‐free leisure under linear incentives. When risk increases with effort, risk‐averse agents choose less effort, but when risk is independent of effort, effort choice is unaffected by risk preferences. In many incentive contracts, income risk is multiplicative with, rather than additive to effort, sales commissions being one example. In such cases, lower effort by the risk‐averse is a hitherto undocumented behavior towards risk.