Pakistani players for all their talent are not as well-paid as their counterparts abroad. As long as they are underpaid the tendency to be bribed remains.For me, this rings true. There are four aspects to the problem.
1. Comparisons. Mohammad Amir gets a monthly retainer of £1300 from the PCB, and a test match fee of less than £2000. Of course, this is a fantastic fortune by Pakistani standards, and even many high-earning Englishman would be delighted to get such money for doing something they love. However, these sums look paltry compared to the fortunes on offer in the IPL. And it‘s this comparison, rather than the wages of non-cricketers, that probably loom larger in the Pakistan players minds.
In Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely gives the reason for this. People, he says, make comparisons that are easiest. And the easiest comparator for a Pakistani international cricketer is an Indian international cricketer. Ariely tells the story of an investment bank employee complaining to his boss about his salary:
“How long have you been with the firm?” the executive asked.We might call this the Ashley Cole effect. When Arsenal offered him £55,000 a week, he felt so insulted that he almost crashed his car. This is because he was comparing himself to better-paid peers.
“Three years. I came straight from college” was the answer.
“And when you joined us, how much didi you expect to be making in three years?”
“About a hundred thousand.”
“And now you are making almost three hundred thousand, so how can you possibly complain?”
“Well” the young man stammered, “It’s just that a couple of the guys at the desks next to me, they’re not any better than I am, and they are making three hundred ten.”
2. A drawback to superstar economics. Put yourself in the shoes of a Pakistani player. He might ask: why should I earn only a fraction of MS Dhoni’s millions? We might cite Sherwin Rosen (pdf) in reply: MS Dhoni might be only slightly better than you, but small differences in ability can translate into colossal differences in wages. I doubt if the Pakistani players would accept this - would you? Insofar as they don’t - whether they should or not - superstar economics is another source of resentment.
3. Injustice hurts. One message of ultimatum game experiments is that people reject offers they perceive as unfair, even if such offers would make them better off. This suggests that when a sense of unfairness arises, people can behave spitefully in ways which seem irrational from a narrow utility-maximizing perspective.
4. Efficiency wages matter. It’s long been known that, in many firms, wages are higher than can be explained by simple supply and demand. Conventional explanations for this are that bosses want to deter workers from shirking, and so pay over the odds as a way of ensuring that there‘s a big cost of losing one‘s job if one is caught slacking.
Pakistani experience, however, reminds us that there’s another reason to pay over the odds: high wages are necessary to buy goodwill.
This is where points 1 and 3 interact nastily. Workers on even huge pay will feel badly treated if their comparators are even better paid. And if they feel unjustly treated, they might be tempted to behave badly, perhaps even at a cost to themselves. In such cases, huge pay will be needed to buy off such bad behaviour. This - rather than any crap about having to attract talent - is why bankers have been so well paid.
The PCB did not learn this lesson.