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Do Managers with Limited Liability Take More Risky Decisions? An Information Acquisition Model

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  • James Malcomson

Abstract

Risk-neutral individuals take more risky decisions when they have limited liability. Risk-neutral managers may not when acting as agents under contract and taking costly actions to acquire information before taking decisions. Limited liability makes it optimal to increase the reward for outcomes relatively more likely to arise from desirable than from undesirable actions. The resulting decisions may be less, rather than more, risky. Making a decision after acquiring information provides an additional reason to those in the classic principal-agent literature for using contracts with pay increasing in the return. Further results on the form of contracts are also derived.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2943.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2943

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Keywords: managers; risky decisions; limited liability; principal-agent contracts; asymmetric information;

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  1. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "The First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1357-67, November.
  2. Palomino, F.A. & Prat, A., 1998. "Risk Taking and Optimal Contracts for Money Managers," Discussion Paper 1998-108, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Jewitt, Ian, 1988. "Justifying the First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1177-90, September.
  4. Bruno Biais & Catherine Casamatta, 1999. "Optimal Leverage and Aggregate Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1291-1323, 08.
  5. Innes, Robert D., 1990. "Limited liability and incentive contracting with ex-ante action choices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 45-67, October.
  6. Sanford J Grossman & Oliver D Hart, 2001. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Levine's Working Paper Archive 391749000000000339, David K. Levine.
  7. Mirrlees, J A, 1999. "The Theory of Moral Hazard and Unobservable Behaviour: Part I," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 3-21, January.
  8. Feess, Eberhard & Walzl, Markus, 2004. "Delegated expertise--when are good projects bad news?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 77-82, January.
  9. Peter Diamond, 1998. "Managerial Incentives: On the Near Linearity of Optimal Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 931-957, October.
  10. Gromb, Denis & Martimort, David, 2007. "Collusion and the organization of delegated expertise," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 271-299, November.
  11. Léonard,Daniel & Long,Ngo van, 1992. "Optimal Control Theory and Static Optimization in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521337465, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Citci, Haluk & Inci, Eren, 2012. "The Masquerade Ball of the CEOs and the Mask of Excessive Risk," MPRA Paper 35979, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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