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Completing Contracts Ex Post: How Car Manufacturers Manage Car Dealers

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Author Info

  • Arruñada Benito

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, University of Chicago, Universidad de Salamanca)

  • Garicano Luis

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, University of Chicago, Universidad de Salamanca)

  • Vázquez Luis

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, University of Chicago, Universidad de Salamanca)

Abstract

This article illustrates how contracts are completed ex post in practice and, in so doing, indirectly suggests what the real function of contracts may be. Our evidence comes from the contracts between automobile manufacturers and their dealers in 23 dealership networks in Spain. Franchising dominates automobile distribution because of the need to decentralize pricing and control of service decisions. It motivates local managers to undertake these activities at minimum cost for the manufacturer. However, it creates incentive conflicts, both between manufacturers and dealers and among dealers themselves, concerning the level of sales and service provided. It also holds potential for expropriation of specific investments. Contracts deal with these conflicts by restricting dealers’ decision rights and granting manufacturers extensive completion, monitoring and enforcement powers. The main mechanism that may prevent abuse of these powers is the manufacturers’ reputational capital.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Review of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 149-173

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:1:y:2005:i:1:n:8

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  1. Rubin, Paul H, 1978. "The Theory of the Firm and the Structure of the Franchise Contract," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 223-33, April.
  2. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1979. "Optimal incentive contracts with imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 231-259, April.
  3. Norton, Seth W, 1988. "An Empirical Look at Franchising as an Organizational Form," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 197-218, April.
  4. Brickley, James A & Dark, Frederick H & Weisbach, Michael S, 1991. "The Economic Effects of Franchise Termination Laws," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 101-32, April.
  5. Smith, Richard L, II, 1982. "Franchise Regulation: An Economic Analysis of State Restrictions on Automobile Distribution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 125-57, April.
  6. Brickley, James A. & Dark, Frederick H., 1987. "The choice of organizational form The case of franchising," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 401-420, June.
  7. Klein, Benjamin & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Vertical Integration as a Self-Enforcing Contractual Arrangement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 415-20, May.
  8. Klein, Benjamin, 1980. "Transaction Cost Determinants of "Unfair" Contractual Arrangements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(2), pages 356-62, May.
  9. Lutz, Nancy A., 1995. "Ownership rights and incentives in franchising," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 2(1-2), pages 103-131, October.
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  13. Klein, Benjamin & Saft, Lester F, 1985. "The Law and Economics of Franchise Tying Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 345-61, May.
  14. Eckard, E Woodrow, Jr, 1985. "The Effects of State Automobile Dealer Entry Regulation on New Car Prices," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(2), pages 223-42, April.
  15. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1996. "Dealer Price Discrimination in New Car Purchases: Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 622-54, June.
  16. Freixas, Xavier & Guesnerie, Roger & Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Planning under Incomplete Information and the Ratchet Effect," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 173-91, April.
  17. Klein, Benjamin, 1995. "The economics of franchise contracts," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 2(1-2), pages 9-37, October.
  18. Michael C. Jensen & William H. Heckling, 1995. "Specific And General Knowledge, And Organizational Structure," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 8(2), pages 4-18.
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Cited by:
  1. Jia, Xiangping & Hu, Yamei & Hendrikse, George & Huanga, Jikun, 2010. "Centralized versus individual: Governance of farmer professional cooperatives in China," IAMO Forum 2010: Institutions in Transition – Challenges for New Modes of Governance 52699, Leib­niz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO).
  2. Alicia García-Herrera & Rafael Llorca-Vivero, 2010. "How time influences franchise contracts: the Spanish case," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 1-16, August.
  3. Martino, Gaetano & Frascarelli, Angelo, 2012. "Adaptation in Food Networks: Theoretical Frame Work and Empirical Evidences," 2012 International European Forum, February 13-17, 2012, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 144981, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
  4. Marco Furlotti, 2007. "There is more to contracts than incompleteness: a review and assessment of empirical research on inter-firm contract design," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 61-99, March.
  5. Hu, Y. & Hendrikse, G.W.J., 2007. "Allocation of Decision Rights in Fruit and Vegetable Contracts in China," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2007-077-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.

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