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The role of the agent's outside options in principal-agent relationships

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  • Rasul, Imran
  • Sonderegger, Silvia

Abstract

We consider a principal-agent model of adverse selection where, in order to trade with the principal, the agent must undertake a relationship-specific investment which affects his outside option to trade, i.e. the payoff that he can obtain by trading with an alternative principal. This creates a distinction between the agent's ex ante (before investment) and ex post (after investment) outside options to trade. We investigate the consequences of this distinction, and show that whenever an agent's ex ante and ex post outside options differ, this may equip the principal with an additional tool for screening among different agent types, by randomizing over the probability with which trade occurs once the agent has undertaken the investment. In turn, this may enhance the efficiency of the optimal second-best contract.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 68 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 781-788

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:2:p:781-788

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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Keywords: Adverse selection Randomization Type-dependent outside options;

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References

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  1. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Strausz, Roland, 2006. "Deterministic versus stochastic mechanisms in principal-agent models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 306-314, May.
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  5. Guesnerie, Roger & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "A complete solution to a class of principal-agent problems with an application to the control of a self-managed firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 329-369, December.
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  8. Dagobert L. Brito & Jonathan H. Hamilton & Steven M. Slutsky & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1990. "Randomization in Optimal Income Tax Schedules," NBER Working Papers 3289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Jullien, Bruno & Pouyet, Jérôme & Sand-Zantman, Wilfried, 2013. "An Offer You Can't Refuse: Early Contracting with Endogenous Threat," TSE Working Papers 13-415, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jun 2014.
  2. Englmaier, Florian & Muehlheusser, Gerd & Roider, Andreas, 2014. "Optimal incentive contracts for knowledge workers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 82-106.
  3. Goldlücke, Susanne & Schmitz, Patrick W, 2011. "Investments as Signals of Outside Options," CEPR Discussion Papers 8366, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Stefan Terstiege, 2011. "Randomization in contracts with endogenous information," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse07_2011, University of Bonn, Germany.
  5. Englmaier, Florian & Muehlheusser, Gerd & Roider, Andreas, 2010. "Optimal Incentive Contracts under Moral Hazard When the Agent Is Free to Leave," IZA Discussion Papers 5027, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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