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Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of…
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Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done

by Ian Ayres

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How to use contracts with real incentives to reach your goals. The goals can be anything, from quitting smoking and losing weight to read more books, be on time or call your grandma more often. The key is to have a contract that says if you do not reach your goal, you will give money to a friend, a charity, an enemy, or teach a class wearing only a speedo. If the threat in the contracts is credible, it allows one to commit. The simplest contracts can be based on self-reporting and honesty, but often there is a designated referee and verifiable information involved. Ayres and Dean Karlan set up a website (stickK.com) that allows people to enter into these contracts. Dean Karlan tried to make voting contracts to enable people to make a credible promise to vote, but although effective, they did not catch on so far. Thomas Schelling was early into this field as many others, he wrote about self blackmail-writing a incriminatory letter to be published if the letter-writer was not drug-free at a later testing. These contracts do not solve every problem in the world, but the changes people actually use them for can make a big difference to them. ( )
  ohernaes | Jan 16, 2014 |
There were some parts of this book that were really interesting ( real examples from real companies I.e. Zappos) but most was too technical for my level of interest. I generally like books that explain behavioral economics ( and when you manage others, take-always are always good). These would be ideal for a professor who is teaching a class related to business theories. ( )
  MichelleCH | Apr 5, 2013 |
I was hoping this book would be motivational to me, but it wasn't.
There were alot of case studies presented, and pretty much all of them repeats or wasn't relevant to me.
I guess I was hoping for a clear cut "this is what you have to do..." etc self help book, but not so. You have to think about what the examples mean and for some, this is a tedious task. I say you would probably need to make notes and highlight the book to get anything out of it. It's definitely not a casual read, but more of an analysis kind of book. ( )
  AceArtemis7 | Sep 18, 2011 |
Authored by Yale professor Ian Ayers, the book discusses topics at the crossroads of economics and behavioral psychology: what self motivates, what motivates others, the use of incentives and disincentives (i.e. carrots and sticks), structuring commitment contracts, loss aversion, incremental rewards, lotteries...and on and on. I found the style engaging initially, though many chapters in, the tone becomes pedantic. Nevertheless, the author has plenty of depth and I can see places in daily life to employ some of the knowledge that Ayers offers. Worth reading. ( )
  rbartholomew | Aug 30, 2011 |
Okay, it's kind of dry and heavily weighted towards exposition on principles of behavioral economics. My mom read it and recommended it to me as someone who has real difficulty sticking to commitments. I guess I was expecting more of a self-help tome. However, I was very interested to learn about all the experiments that had been done in getting people to stick to various commitments - such as quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising more, and other, more esoteric, personal commitments. I liked reading about personal commitment from a behavioral economist's point of view - no judgement about what people have or have not been able to bring themselves to do. Just statistics!

It was an interesting book, but slow going. I have serious doubts about the economic viability of this guy's website - stickk.com (or whatever it was). I liked the idea of commitment contracts and may eventually commit to starting a commitment contract, lol. We'll see. ( )
  allawishus | Mar 20, 2011 |
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The part-owner of StickK.com uses research into incentives and punishments to introduce the concept of "commitment contracts," an easy strategy for setting and achieving goals that is already in use by successful companies and individuals across America.… (more)

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