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The marginal cost of effort often increases as effort is exerted. In a dynamic moral hazard setting, dynamically increasing costs create information asymmetry. This paper characterizes the optimal contract and helps explain the popular yet thus far puzzling use of non-linear incentives, for example in sales-force compensation. The result is obtained by complementing the standard dynamic program with a novel dynamic dual formulation. The dual program is monotonic and sub-modular, providing stronger results, including a proof for the sufficiency of one shot deviations.

Article on JET

Working paper version on SSRN