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Production Externalities and Two-way Distortion in Principal-multi-agent Problems

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  • Lockwood, Ben

Abstract

This paper studies an otherwise standard principal-agent problem with hidden information, but whether there are positive production externalities between agents: the output of any agent depends positively on the effort expended by the other agents. It is shown that the optimal contract for the principal exhibits two-way distortion: the effort of any agent is oversupplied (relative to the first-best) when his marginal cost effort is low, and undersupplied his marginal cost of effort is high. This pattern of distortion cannot otherwise arise in optimal single- or multi-agent incentive contracts, unless there are countervailing incentives. However, unlike the countervailing incentives case, the pattern of distortion is robust to the precise form of the externality.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 92 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 142-166

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:92:y:2000:i:1:p:142-166

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

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  1. Baron, David P & Myerson, Roger B, 1982. "Regulating a Monopolist with Unknown Costs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 911-30, July.
  2. Mas-Colell, Andreu, 1984. "On a theorem of Schmeidler," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 201-206, December.
  3. Cooper, Russell & John, Andrew, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-63, August.
  4. Cremer, Jacques & McLean, Richard P, 1985. "Optimal Selling Strategies under Uncertainty for a Discriminating Monopolist When Demands Are Interdependent," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 345-61, March.
  5. Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-36, May.
  6. Mookherjee, Dilip, 1984. "Optimal Incentive Schemes with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 433-46, July.
  7. Lewis, Tracy R. & Sappington, David E. M., 1989. "Countervailing incentives in agency problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 294-313, December.
  8. Green, Jerry & Stokey, Nancy, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Scholarly Articles 3203644, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Maggi G. & Rodriguez-Clare A., 1995. "On Countervailing Incentives," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 238-263, June.
  10. Jerry R. Green & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Federco Etro & Michela Cella, 2010. "Oligopolistic Screening and Two-way distortion," Working Papers 200, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2010.
  2. Csorba, Gergely, 2008. "Screening contracts in the presence of positive network effects," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 213-226, January.
  3. Brocas, Isabelle, 2006. "Optimal Choice of Characteristics for a Non-Excludable Good," CEPR Discussion Papers 5704, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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