First Advisor

Martin Zwick

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science


Systems Science




Incentives in industry, Game theory



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, xv, 340 pages)


Game theory was used to analyze compensation systems based on individual and group incentives. Payoff formulas were developed for these incentives assuming different preferences for individual and social outcomes. Two levels of contributions were considered: (1) Defection. The minimum acceptable level of contributions, and (2) Cooperation. A level of discretionary contributions above the minimum. The discretionary contributions associated with cooperation were represented as a cost to the individual.

A classification scheme for uniform n-person games was developed using the approach of Rappaport and Guyer (1966) for 2 x 2 games. This classification scheme defines the natural outcome (cooperation or defection) for each game. The analysis considered the Individual motive, based on maximizing self-interest, and five social motives (Collective, Competitive, Altruism, Equity and Aggression). These motives reflect preferences for outcomes based on payoffs to self and others. The results indicate the natural outcome and game category for different values of the individual and group incentive factors. Satisficing theory was also used to analyze the natural outcome for the Individual motive.

Evolutionary game theory was used to develop two simulation models for social motives. The models interpret social motives as (1) genuine preferences for specific social outcomes, or (2) indirect strategies for maximizing individual payoffs. These models explore the interaction of social motives and the resulting impact on the level of cooperation.

The results were used to develop effectiveness criteria for selecting inducement systems which should promote cooperation. Additionally, cost curves were used to determine the least cost inducement system. Based on these results, inducement systems using absolute incentives are recommended over systems using competitive incentives. Competitive incentives should only be considered when there is limited need for coordination between individuals and where aggressive and/or competitive behavior is acceptable.

The study has theoretical as well as practical implications. Game theory provides a method for expanding expectancy theory to include expectations about the actions of others and provides a framework for integrating expectancy theory and other theories based on social motives (e.g. equity theory). The use of dynamic models from evolutionary game theory breaks new ground in the theory of motivation.


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