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AGREEING NOW TO AGREE LATER: Contracts that Rule Out but do not Rule In

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  • Oliver Hart
  • John Moore

Abstract

We view a contract as a list of outcomes. Ex ante, the parties commit not to consider outcomes not on the list, i.e., these are "ruled out". Ex post, they freely bargain over outcomes on the list, i.e., the contract specifies no mechanism to structure their choice; in this sense outcomes on the list are not "ruled out". A "loose" contract (long list) maximizes flexibility but may interfere with ex ante investment incentives. When these incentives are important enough, the parties may write a "tight" contract (short list), even though this leads to ex post inefficiency.

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Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series with number /2004/472.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stitep:/2004/472

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Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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Keywords: Agreements to agree; ruling out but not ruling in; bargaining; ex post inefficiency.;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sergei Guriev & Sudipto Bhattacharya, 2008. "Control Rights over Intellectual Property: Corporate Venturing and Bankruptcy Regimes," FMG Discussion Papers dp618, Financial Markets Group.
  2. Surajeet Chakravarty, 2005. "Resolving Contractual Disputes: Arbitration vs Mediation," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 05/117, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  3. Guillaume Haeringer & Sophie Bade & Ludovic Renou, 2006. "Bilateral Commitment," Working Papers 2006.75, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 1-48, 02.
  5. Garrouste, Pierre & Saussier, Stephane, 2005. "Looking for a theory of the firm: Future challenges," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 178-199, October.
  6. Bhattacharya, Sudipto & Guriev, Sergei, 2004. "Knowledge Disclosure, Patents and Optimal Organization of Research and Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 4513, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Ricard Gil & Jordi Mondria, 2011. "Introducing managerial attention allocation in incentive contracts," SERIEs, Spanish Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 335-358, September.
  8. Chaserant, Camille, 2007. "Les fondements incomplets de l’incomplétude : Une revue critique de la théorie des contrats incomplets," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 83(2), pages 227-253, juin.
  9. Shin, Dongsoo, 2008. "Information acquisition and optimal project management," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 1032-1043, July.

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