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Theories of behavior in principal-agent relationships with hidden action

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  • Keser, Claudia
  • Willinger, Marc

Abstract

In Keser and Willinger (IJIO, 2000) we found that many contracts offered by experimental subjects do not satisfy incentive compatibility. While the combination of incentive compatibility and a binding participation constraint would require that the agent incurs a net loss in the less favorable state for the principal, experimental subjects in the role of principals propose contracts in which the agent never risks to make a loss. We identified in the principals’ decision making three basic principles that, combined together, describe a fair offers area into which a large number of the observed contract offers falls. These principles imply that net expected surplus is more evenly allocated between the principal and the agent than agency theory predicts. The aim of the experiments presented in this paper is to test the robustness of these principles when the effort costs increase and the net expected surplus becomes smaller, and to compare their predictive success to the predictive success of agency theory under the assumption either of a risk-averse or a risk-neutral agent. The results show that the fair offers prediction describes the observed contract offers better than agency theory as long as an important net expected surplus is created. However, when the effort costs are so high that the net expected surplus is negligible, standard agency theory does better than the combination of the three principles in predicting the observed contract offers.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 51 (2007)
Issue (Month): 6 (August)
Pages: 1514-1533

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:51:y:2007:i:6:p:1514-1533

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  1. Englmaier, Florian & Wambach, Achim, 2005. "Optimal Incentive Contracts under Inequity Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 1643, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Selten,Reinhard, . "Properties of a measure of predictive succes," Discussion Paper Serie B 130, University of Bonn, Germany.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  4. Cachon, Gerard P & Camerer, Colin F, 1996. "Loss-Avoidance and Forward Induction in Experimental Coordination Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 165-94, February.
  5. Vital Anderhub & Simon Gaechter & Manfred Koenigstein, . "Efficient Contracting and Fair Play in a Simple Principal-Agent Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 018, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Keser, Claudia & Willinger, Marc, 2000. "Principals' principles when agents' actions are hidden," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 163-185, January.
  7. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  8. repec:wop:humbsf:1999-82 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Werner Güth & Wolfgang Klose & Manfred Königstein & Joachim Schwalbach, 1998. "An experimental study of a dynamic principal-agent relationship," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 327-341.
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Cited by:
  1. Eva I. Hoppe & David J. Kusterer, 2010. "Conflicting Tasks and Moral Hazard: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 01-04, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
  2. Rachel Levy & Paul Muller, 2006. "Do academic laboratories correspond to scientific communities? Evidence from a large European university," Working Papers of BETA 2006-15, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  3. Giovanni Dosi & Patrick Llerena & Mauro Sylos Labin, 2005. "Science-Technology-Industry Links and the ”European Paradox”: Some Notes on the Dynamics of Scientific and Technological Research in Europe," Working Papers of BETA 2005-11, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  4. Meixing DAI & Moïse SIDIROPOULOS & Eleftherios SPYROMITROS, 2007. "La transparence de la politique monétaire et la dynamique des marchés financiers," Working Papers of BETA 2007-19, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  5. Ahmed Ennasri & Marc Willinger, 2011. "Managerial incentives under competitive pressure: Experimental investigation," Working Papers 11-12, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jun 2011.
  6. Tapas K. Mishra, 2006. "A Further Look into the Demography-based GDP Forecasting Method," Working Papers of BETA 2006-17, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  7. Jalal EL OUARDIGHI & Rabija SOMUN-KAPETANOVIC, 2006. "Convergence des contributions aux inégalités de richesse dans le développement des pays européens," Working Papers of BETA 2006-19, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  8. Li Qin & Eleftherios Spyromitros & Moïse Sidiropoulos, 2007. "Monetary Policy with Uncertain Central Bank Preferences for Robustness," Working Papers of BETA 2007-23, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  9. Nicolas Carayol & Pascale Roux & Murat Yıldızoglu, 2006. "Coordination failures in network formation," Working Papers of BETA 2006-03, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  10. Stéphane Betrand & Kene Boun My & Alban Verchère, 2005. "Faire émerger la coopération internationale : une approche expérimentale comparée du bilatéralisme et du multilatéralisme," Working Papers of BETA 2005-13, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  11. Meixing DAI, 2007. "A two-pillar strategy to keep inflation expectations at bay: A basic theoretical framework," Working Papers of BETA 2007-20, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  12. Gisèle Umbhauer, 2007. "De l’amiante au chrysotile, un glissement stratégique dans la désinformation," Working Papers of BETA 2007-15, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  13. Nicolas Carayol & Pascale Roux, 2006. "A strategic model of complex networks formation," Working Papers of BETA 2006-02, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  14. Sofia Pessoa e Costa & Stéphane Robin, 2007. "The Impact Of Training Programmes On Wages In France: An Evaluation Of The “Qualifying Contract” Using Propensity Scores," Working Papers of BETA 2007-18, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  15. Estelle Dhont-Peltrault & Etienne Pfister, 2007. "R&D cooperation versus R&D subcontracting: empirical evidence from French survey data," Working Papers of BETA 2007-17, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.

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