Buyer beware! MLB free agents underperform their contracts – Ben Shields and Paul Michelman

Paul Michelman, editor-in-chief of MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From MIT Sloan Management Review

Almost every team’s fans can point to a high-profile, free-agent signing that fell flat. Sometimes the reasons for the player’s underperformance are clear — injuries, for example. But often, it’s harder to pinpoint the cause. In those cases, we tend to point to lack of effort as the culprit. This is what researchers call shirking. According to Richard Paulsen, who presented his paper, “New Evidence in the Study of Shirking in Major League Baseball,” at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, “Shirking occurs when an employee exerts effort … that is suboptimal in the eyes of the employer.” Paulsen speaks with us about his research on shirking and his belief that the Phillies are going to regret at least one free-agent signing from this off-season.

Listen to the full podcast here.

Ben Shields is a Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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