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The Effect of Sunk Costs on the Outcome of Alternating-Offers Bargaining Between Inequity-Averse Agents

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  • Christian Ewerhart

Abstract

When investments are specific to a relationship and contracting possibilities are incomplete, the efficiency of a joint venture may be severely impaired by ex-post opportunistic and hold-up type behavior. How is the logic of this argument affected by inequity aversion? In this paper I show that incentives to invest are stronger with inequity aversion because a higher investment by an individual agent increases not only the total surplus to be divided, but also, generally, the relative share of the surplus obtained by this agent in the ex-post negotiation. In fact, when production is sufficiently profitable and agents are sufficiently patient, then first-best investment levels may be approximated without any contract.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by LMU Munich School of Management in its journal Schmalenbach Business Review.

Volume (Year): 58 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 184-203

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Handle: RePEc:sbr:abstra:v:58:y:2006:i:2:p:184-203

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Keywords: Alternating-Offers Bargaining; Inequity Aversion; Hold-Up Problem;

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References

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  1. Ochs, Jack & Roth, Alvin E, 1989. "An Experimental Study of Sequential Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 355-84, June.
  2. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
  3. Tore Ellingsen & Jack Robles, 2000. "Does Evolution Solve the Hold-up Problem," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1525, Econometric Society.
  4. repec:att:wimass:9714 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. G. Bolton, 2010. "A comparative model of bargaining: theory and evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 263, David K. Levine.
  6. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, . "Asymmetric Inequality Aversion and Noisy Behavior in Alternating-Offer Bargaining Games," Virginia Economics Online Papers 329, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  7. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1984. "Involuntary Unemployment as a Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1351-64, November.
  8. Troger, Thomas, 2002. "Why Sunk Costs Matter for Bargaining Outcomes: An Evolutionary Approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 375-402, February.
  9. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114, January.
  10. Donald B. Hausch & Yeon-Koo Che, 1999. "Cooperative Investments and the Value of Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 125-147, March.
  11. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Tania Singer & Ernst Fehr, 2005. "The Neuroeconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 340-345, May.
  2. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2009. "Can Contracts Solve the Hold-Up Problem? Experimental Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7205, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & Kosfeld, Michael, 2005. "Neuroeconomic Foundation of Trust and Social Preferences," CEPR Discussion Papers 5127, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Christian Korth & Stefan Napel, 2009. "Fairness, Price Stickiness, and History Dependence in Decentralized Trade," Working Papers 068, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
  5. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2005. "The Behavioural Effects of Minimum Wages," CEPR Discussion Papers 5115, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Rasch, Alexander & Wambach, Achim & Wiener, Kristina, 2012. "Bargaining and inequity aversion: On the efficiency of the double auction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 178-181.
  7. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.
  8. Siemens, Ferdinand von, 2005. "Bargaining under Incomplete Information, Fairness, and the Hold-Up Problem," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 57, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  9. Siemens, Ferdinand von, 2005. "Bargaining under Incomplete Information, Fairness, and the Hold-Up Problem," Discussion Papers in Economics 518, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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