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Ratto M., Thomas R., Ulph D. (2013), The indirect effects of auditing taxpayers, Public Finance Review, 41, 3, p. 317-333
In this paper we focus on the effects of investigations on tax compliance. Results from empirical studies suggest that the effects of audits are not only in terms of recovered unpaid tax (direct effects), but there are also indirect effects in terms of future better compliance in the rest of the community. The evidence suggests that such indirect effects tend to outweigh the direct effect. However, current policy decisions of how to allocate investigation resources across different groups of taxpayers generally neglect the indirect effects, generating a potential resource misallocation issue. With the aim to clarify a possible mechanism through which the indirect effects work and hence to inform any policy recommendations, we model tax compliance as a social norm and decompose the total effect of an increase in the audit probability into a direct effect (increased expected fine) and a multiplier effect due to taxpayers' interdependencies.
Ratto M., Gemmell N. (2012), Behavioral responses to taxpayer audits: Evidence from random taxpayer inquiries, National Tax Journal, 65, 1, p. 33-57
This paper argues that random audit programs provide income taxpayers with information that alters their perceptions of, and hence their behavioral responses to, audits. Comparing samples of randomly selected audited and non-audited UK taxpayers, the evidence confirms predictions that audited taxpayers found to be "compliant" reduce their subsequent compliance. The opposite response is observed for taxpayers found to be "noncompliant." The results highlight the importance of testing separately the responses of taxpayers facing different opportunities and incentives to evade tax in order to avoid conflating their different effects, and to reveal both positive and negative indirect revenue effects from random auditing.
Propper C., von Hinke Kessler Scholder S., Tominey E., Ratto M., Burgess S. (2010), Smarter Task Assignment or Greater Effort: the impact of incentives on team performance, The Economic Journal, 120, 547, p. 968-989
We use an experiment to study the impact of team-based incentives, exploiting rich data from personnel records and management information systems. Using a triple difference design, we show that the incentive scheme had an impact on team performance, even with quite large teams. We examine whether this effect was due to increased effort from workers or strategic task reallocation. We find that the provision of financial incentives did raise individual performance but that managers also disproportionately reallocated efficient workers to the incentivised tasks. We show that this reallocation was the more important contributor to the overall outcome.
Schnedler W., Ratto M. (2008), Too Few Cooks Spoil the Broth : Division of Labor and Directed Production, The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 8, 1, p. 19
How can a manager influence workers' activity, while knowing little about it ? This paper examines a situation where production requires several tasks, and the manager wants to direct production to achieve a preferred allocation of effort across tasks. However, the effort that is required for each task cannot be observed, and the production result is the only indicator of worker activity. This paper illustrates that in this situation, the manager cannot implement the preferred allocation with a single worker. On the other hand, the manager is able to implement the preferred allocation by inducing a game among several workers. Gains to workers from collusion may be eliminated by an ability-dependent, but potentially inefficient, task assignment. These findings provide a new explanation for the division of labor, and bureaucratic features such as "over"- specialization and "wrong" task allocation.
Bracht J., Figuières C., Ratto M. (2008), Relative performance of two simple incentive mechanisms in a public goods experiment, Journal of Public Economics, 92, 1-2, p. 54-90
We compare the performance of two incentive mechanisms in public goods experiments. One mechanism, the Falkinger mechanism, rewards and penalizes agents for deviations from the average contributions to the public good (Falkinger mechanism). The other, the compensation mechanism, allows agents to subsidize the other agents' contributions (compensation mechanism). It is found that both mechanisms lead to an increase in the level of contributions to the public goods. However, the Falkinger mechanism predicts the average level of contributions more reliably than the compensation mechanism.
Ratto M. (2011), Implicit and Explicit Incentives to Cooperate in Teams, Workshop on Research Advances in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management, Paris Dauphine, May 17-19, 2011, Paris, France
This paper provides an empirical analysis of the relation between implicit/explicit incentives and cooperation in teams. Using information from a very detailed French matched employer/employee survey on computerisation and organisational change (COI), we identify some crucial practices of teamwork and assess their impact on cooperation among colleagues, hourly salary and the employees' perceptions about their working environment. According to the theoretical literature, cooperation in teams can arise from the use of external incentives, i.e. imposed by formal contracts or external arrangements (external monitoring, performance evaluation, use of team-based rewards, task assignment) but also from work practices that generate implicit incentives to exert effort. Following the theoretical economic literature we identify the following work practices that can act as mechanisms to foster cooperation in teams : repeated interactions with co-workers, peer monitoring, interdependencies in production, job autonomy (to decide the workload and divide the tasks among colleagues) and task variety assignment. The research questions we address are : how do the different work practices we identify relate to mutual help at work ? What is the interplay between explicit and implicit incentives on mutual help ? Do explicit incentives tend to crowd out or to enhance implicit incentives ? How are hourly salary and the perception of having a good working environment affected by the different work practices ? In general we find a positive impact of these work practices on cooperation, but we find important differences in the way they affect employees' salary and perceptions about their working environment.