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Principals, Agents, and the Learning Curve: The Case of Steam-Electric Power Plant Design and Construction

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  • McCabe, Mark J
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    Abstract

    A number of factors, including design variation and the combination of uncertain costs and cost-plus contracting, diminished opportunities and incentives to improve power plant design and construction over the last several decades. This paper incorporates these factors into a model of learning that relies on a principal-agent framework. The author finds that, because of design variation, learning was reduced when an agent contracted with a series of different principals; agent learning declined when cost uncertainty increased during the late 1970s and 1980s; and, at the same time, the locus of learning may have shifted from agents to principals. Copyright 1996 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Industrial Economics.

    Volume (Year): 44 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 357-75

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:jindec:v:44:y:1996:i:4:p:357-75

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    Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-1821

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    Cited by:
    1. Koomey, Jonathan & Hultman, Nathan E., 2007. "A reactor-level analysis of busbar costs for US nuclear plants, 1970-2005," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 5630-5642, November.
    2. Michel Berthélemy & Lina Escobar Rangel, 2013. "Nuclear reactors' construction costs: The role of lead-time, standardization and technological progress," Working Papers hal-00956292, HAL.
    3. McNerney, James & Doyne Farmer, J. & Trancik, Jessika E., 2011. "Historical costs of coal-fired electricity and implications for the future," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 3042-3054, June.
    4. Lina Escobar Rangel & François Lévêque, 2012. "Revisiting the cost escalation curse of nuclear power: New lessons from the French experience," Working Papers hal-00780566, HAL.
    5. Grubler, Arnulf, 2010. "The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 5174-5188, September.
    6. Lucas W. Davis, 2011. "Prospects for Nuclear Power," NBER Working Papers 17674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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