ECON3810 – Incentives and motivation

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course presents theoretical and empirical research on work motivation and incentives. We start with the work horse model of motivation in economics, the principal-agent model.  We will discuss the strengths and limitations of this model and how it can be extended to include a broader set of concerns – motivations - that drive us to perform well.  Some of the central questions we will address are:  To what extent does monetary incentives induce employees to work harder and smarter? How can we classify non-financial motivation.  How important are these other sources of work motivation? How can non-financial motivation be stimulated (are there other incentives than money rewards for good work)? To what extent are non-financial drivers influenced – crowded in or out - by monetary incentives.

Learning outcome


You should know

  • Familiarity with models of incentives and moral hazard the work place 
  • Learn about classifications of different types of work motivation 
  • Knowledge of empirical literature that attempts to test the strength of different motivations and how they are influenced by monetary incentives (performance pay).


You should be able to

  • Know some basic results about what ticks our motivation and be able to critically evaluate these studies. 
  • Understand central moral hazard problems in modern firms and how incentives can be designed to reduce these problems.  
  • Know and assess the empirical literature that estimates the possibility that monetary incentives drives out other motivations for doing well at work.


You should

  • Increase your ability to critically access motivational schemes.
  • Be able to read and understand project reports and journal articles that make use of the concepts and methods that are introduced in the course.


Students at UiO must apply for courses in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

You can not attend this course if you have already passed specific ECON-courses at a higher level.


Recommended previous knowledge


Lectures and seminars. 

Compulsory tuition activities

  • A compulsory term paper

If the compulsory term paper is not approved, you may be given a second attempt to hand in a new term paper/improve the term paper within a short deadline. 

When the compulsory term paper is approved, the result will be registered. The term paper will be valid for 8 consecutive semesters.

See The Faculty of Social Sciences' rules regarding compulsory tuition activities.

Absence from compulsory tuition activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from compulsory tuition activities, your absence may be approved or the compulsory activity may be postponed.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


This course has a 3-hour written school exam.

You must have passed the mandatory activities in order to sit for the exam.

Previous exams

Exam papers with comments from examiner

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Students who wish to retake an examination later, are not guaranteed that the course will be given with the same content and syllabus, or that it will be the same type of exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language