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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. 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.
  2. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 252, David K. Levine.
  3. Bolton, Gary E, 1991. "A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1096-136, December.
  4. repec:att:wimass:9714 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Tore Ellingsen & Jack Robles, 2000. "Does Evolution Solve the Hold-up Problem," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1525, Econometric Society.
  6. J. Ochs & Alvin E. Roth, 1998. "An experimental study of sequential bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 331, David K. Levine.
  7. 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.
  8. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114, January.
  9. 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.
  10. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
  11. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Christian Korth & Stefan Napel, 2008. "Fairness, Price Stickiness, and History Dependence in Decentralized Trade," Working Papers 064, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
  2. Singer, Tania & Fehr, Ernst, 2005. "The Neuroeconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy," IZA Discussion Papers 1647, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & Kosfeld, Michael, 2005. "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Trust and Social Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 1641, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2005. "The Behavioral Effects of Minimum Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 1625, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2011. "Can contracts solve the hold-up problem? Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 186-199, September.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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