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Contracting inside an organization: An experimental study

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Author Info

  • Paul Healy

    ()

  • John Ledyard

    ()

  • Charles Noussair

    ()

  • Harley Thronson

    ()

  • Peter Ulrich

    ()

  • Giulio Varsi

    ()

Abstract

In this paper we propose and test a contracting mechanism, Multi-Contract Cost Sharing (MCCS), for use in the management of a sequence of projects. The mechanism is intended for situations where (1) the contractor knows more about the true costs of various projects than does the contracting agency (adverse selection), and (2) unobservable effort on the part of the contractor may lead to cost reductions (moral hazard). The proposed process is evaluated in an experimental environment that includes the essential economic features of the NASA process for the acquisition of Space Science Strategy missions. The environment is complex and the optimal mechanism is unknown. The design of the MCCS mechanism is based on the optimal contract for a simpler related environment. We compare the performance of the proposed process to theoretical benchmarks and to an implementation of the current NASA ‘cost cap’ procurement process. The data indicate that the proposed MCCS process generates significantly higher value per dollar spent than using cost caps, because it allocates resources more efficiently among projects and provides greater incentives to engage in cost-reducing innovations. Copyright Economic Science Association 2007

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 10 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 143-167

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:10:y:2007:i:2:p:143-167

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102888

Related research

Keywords: Mechanism design; Cost sharing; Moral hazard; NASA;

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  1. Patrick Bajari & Steven Tadelis, 1999. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," Working Papers 99029, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  2. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.
  3. Cox, James C. & Isaac, R. Mark, 2008. "Procurement Contracting," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
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  5. Noussair, Charles & Porter, David., 1990. "Allocating Priority with Auctions: An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 747, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  6. R. Andrew Muller & Stuart Mestelman, 1998. "What have we learned from emissions trading experiments?," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 225-238.
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  8. Haruvy, Ernan & Roth, Alvin E. & Unver, M. Utku, 2006. "The dynamics of law clerk matching: An experimental and computational investigation of proposals for reform of the market," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 457-486, March.
  9. John Ledyard & David Porter & Randii Wessen, 2000. "A Market-Based Mechanism for Allocating Space Shuttle Secondary Payload Priority," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 173-195, March.
  10. Roth, Alvin & Ünver, M. Utku & Sönmez, Tayfun, 2004. "Kidney Exchange," Scholarly Articles 2580565, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Noussair, C.N. & Healy, P., 2004. "Bidding behavior in the 'price is right' game: An experimental study," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-377939, Tilburg University.
  12. Rafael Tenorio & Timothy N. Cason, 2002. "To Spin or Not to Spin? Natural and Laboratory Experiments from "The Price is Right"," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 170-195, January.
  13. Ken Binmore & Paul Klemperer, 2002. "The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licences," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C74-C96, March.
  14. Elliott Peranson & Alvin E. Roth, 1999. "The Redesign of the Matching Market for American Physicians: Some Engineering Aspects of Economic Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 748-780, September.
  15. John Ledyard & Charles Noussair & David Porter, 1996. "The allocation of a shared resource within an organization," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 163-192, December.
  16. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Ledyard, John O. & Porter, David P., . "Allocating Uncertain and Unresponsive Resources," Working Papers 680, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  17. Grether, David M. & Isaac, R. Mark & Plott, Charles R., . "The Allocation of Landing Rights by Unanimity among Competitors," Working Papers 350, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  18. Bohm, Peter & Carlen, Bjorn, 1999. "Emission quota trade among the few: laboratory evidence of joint implementation among committed countries," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 43-66, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Hans-Theo Normann & Roberto Ricciuti, 2009. "Laboratory Experiments For Economic Policy Making," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 407-432, 07.
  2. Yusufcan Masatlioglu & Sarah Taylor & Neslihan Uler, 2012. "Behavioral mechanism design: evidence from the modified first-price auctions," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 159-173, September.

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