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Describability and agency problems

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  • Anderlini, Luca
  • Felli, Leonardo

Abstract

This paper suggests a reason, other than asymmetric information, why agency contracts are not explicitly contingent on the agent's performance or actions. Two ingredients are essential to this reason. The first is the written form that contracts are required to take to be enforceable. The second is a form of discontinuity in the parties' preferences and in the technology that transforms actions into a (probabilistic) outcome. We show that under these conditions the chosen contract may not be explicitly contigent on the agent's action although, in principle, such actions are contractible and observable to all parties to the contract, court included.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 42 (1998)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 35-59

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:42:y:1998:i:1:p:35-59

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References

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  1. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Sanford J Grossman & Oliver D Hart, 2001. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Levine's Working Paper Archive 391749000000000339, David K. Levine.
  3. Steven A. Matthews, 1993. "Renegotiation of Sales Contracts," Discussion Papers 1051, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Anderlini, L. & Felli, L., 1993. "Incomplete Written Contracts: Undescribable States of Nature," Papers 183, Cambridge - Risk, Information & Quantity Signals.
  5. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1985. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," Working papers 367, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Anderlini, L. & Felli, L., 1995. "Endogenous Agency Problems," Papers 200, Cambridge - Risk, Information & Quantity Signals.
  7. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
  8. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 1993. "Incomplete Written Contracts: Endogenous Agency Problems (Revised version, 'Describability and Agency Problems', published in European Economic Review, vol.42 (1998), pp.35-59.)," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series /1993/267, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Fares, M’hand, 2005. "Quels fondements à l’incomplétude des contrats?," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 81(3), pages 535-555, Septembre.
  2. Anderlini, Luca & Felli, Leonardo, 2004. "Bounded rationality and incomplete contracts," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 3-30, March.
  3. David A. Miller & Kareen Rozen, 2011. "Optimally Empty Promises and Endogenous Supervision," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1823, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Jun 2012.
  4. Nabil J Al-Najjar & Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 2002. "Unforeseen Contingencies," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 431, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  5. Shurojit Chatterji & Dragan Filipovich, 2004. "Ambiguous Contracting: Natural Language and Judicial Interpretation," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 419, Econometric Society.

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