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September/October 1997, 
Vol. 79, No. 5
Posted 1997-09-01

Economic Models of Employee Motivation

by Joseph Ritter and Lowell J. Taylor

Workers present employers with a range of tricky problems. They can be crooked, subversive, surly, or indolent, even if they are paid on time. The authors explore economists’ main theories of how compensation is used to address employee motivation and how these models help to explain puzzling features of labor markets. Although these theories are often regarded as competitors, the authors treat them as complementary tools in understanding how employers deal with the complex problem of motivating workers.

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