This paper presents a simple efficiency wage model to explain the transmission from exogenous productivity shocks to levels of economic activity. Higher real wages and rising unemployment induce workers to increase their effort. The disciplining effect of unemployment on the effort level has an upper and a lower limit. Mild productivity shocks produce unemployment fluctuations within these limits, so that firms will change the real wage rate to keep effort constant. Wild shocks hit these limits so that the disciplining effect becomes invariant to changes in unemployment, and real wages are held constant by the firm. By-and-large, the impact of mild (wild) shocks on the production level is mitigated (reinforced). Finally, the economy with profit-maximizing firms is compared with the economy where firms are managerially controlled and managers seek to maximize output.
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