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A Principal-Agent Model of Sequential Testing

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  • Dino Gerardi
  • Lucas Maestri

Abstract

This paper analyzes the optimal provision of incentives in a sequential testing context. In every period the agent can acquire costly information that is relevant to the principal's decision. Neither the agent's effort nor the realizations of his signals are observable. First, we assume that the principal and the agent are symmetrically informed at the time of contracting. We construct the optimal mechanism and show that the agent is indifferent in every period between performing the test and sending an uninformative message which continues the relationship. Furthermore, in the first period the agent is indifferent between carrying out his task and sending an uninformative message which ends the relationship immediately. We then characterize the optimal mechanisms when the agent has superior information at the outset of the relationship. The principal prefers to offer different contracts if and only if the agent types are sufficiently diverse. Finally, all agent types benefit from their initial private information.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 814577000000000076.

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Date of creation: 15 Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:814577000000000076

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  1. Bergemann, Dirk & Hege, Ulrich, 2001. "The Financing of Innovation: Learning and Stopping," CEPR Discussion Papers 2763, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Cremer, J. & Khalil, F. & Rochet, J-C., 1997. "Contracts and Productive Information Gathering," Papers 97.468, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
  3. Bergemann, Dirk & Hege, Ulrich, 1998. "Venture capital financing, moral hazard, and learning," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(6-8), pages 703-735, August.
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  5. Jean Tirole & Jean-Jaques Laffont, 1985. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Working papers 368, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1997. "Information Management in Incentive Problems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 796-821, August.
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  9. Andrew Atkeson, 2010. "International lending with moral hazard and risk of repudiation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 200, David K. Levine.
  10. Guillaume Plantin & Bruno Biais & Thomas Mariotti & Jean-Charles Rochet, 2004. "Dynamic Security Design," GSIA Working Papers 2005-E5, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  11. PETER M. DeMARZO & YULIY SANNIKOV, 2006. "Optimal Security Design and Dynamic Capital Structure in a Continuous-Time Agency Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(6), pages 2681-2724, December.
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  15. Peter M. DeMarzo & Michael J. Fishman, 2007. "Optimal Long-Term Financial Contracting," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(6), pages 2079-2128, November.
  16. Giuseppe Moscarini & Lones Smith, 2001. "The Optimal Level of Experimentation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1629-1644, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Johannes Horner & Larry Samuelson, 2009. "Incentives for Experimenting Agents," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1726, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Nicolas Klein & Tymofiy Mylovanov, 2011. "Should the Flatterers be Avoided?," 2011 Meeting Papers 1273, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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