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Tractability in Incentive Contracting

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  • Edmans, Alex
  • Gabaix, Xavier

Abstract

This paper identifies a class of multiperiod agency problems in which the optimal contract is tractable (attainable in closed form). By modeling the noise before the action in each period, we force the contract to provide sufficient incentives state-by-state, rather than merely on average. This tightly constrains the set of admissible contracts and allows for a simple solution to the contracting problem. Our results continue to hold in continuous time, where noise and actions are simultaneous. We thus extend the tractable contracts of Holmstrom and Milgrom (1987) to settings that do not require exponential utility, a pecuniary cost of effort, Gaussian noise or continuous time. The contract's functional form is independent of the noise distribution. Moreover, if the cost of effort is pecuniary (multiplicative), the contract is linear (log-linear) in output and its slope is independent of the noise distribution, utility function and reservation utility. In a two-stage contracting game, the optimal target action depends on the costs and benefits of the environment, but is independent of the noise realization.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7578.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7578

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Related research

Keywords: closed forms; contract theory; dispersive order; executive compensation; incentives; principal-agent problem; subderivative;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Chaigneau, Pierre, 2013. "Risk-shifting and the regulation of bank CEOs’ compensation," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 778-789.
  2. Pierre Chaigneau & Nicolas Sahuguet, 2013. "The effect of monitoring on CEO pay practices in a matching equilibrium," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 55405, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Pierre Chaigneau & Nicolas Sahuguet, 2014. "Explaining the Association between Monitoring and Controversial CEO Pay Practices: an Optimal Contracting Perspective," Cahiers de recherche 1406, CIRPEE.
  4. Daniel Garrett & Alessandro Pavan, 2010. "Managerial Turnover in a Changing World," Discussion Papers 1490, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix, 2010. "Risk and the CEO Market: Why Do Some Large Firms Hire Highly-Paid, Low-Talent CEOs?," NBER Working Papers 15987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. George-Marios Angeletos & Alessandro Pavan, 2006. "Socially Optimal Coordination: Characterization and Policy Implications," NBER Working Papers 12778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Edmans, Alex & Gabaix, Xavier, 2010. "Risk and CEO Market: Why Do Some Large Firms Hire Highly-Paid, Low-Talent CEOs?," Working Papers 10-17, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Weiss Center.
  8. Edmans, Alex & Gabaix, Xavier & Sadzik, Tomasz & Sannikov, Yuliy, 2010. "Dynamic Incentive Accounts," Working Papers 10-19, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Weiss Center.
  9. Marco LiCalz & Alessandro Pavan, 2002. "Tilting the Supply Schedule to Enhance Competition on Uniform-Price Auctions," Discussion Papers 1495, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. Zhiguo He & Si Li & Bin Wei & Jianfeng Yu, 2013. "Uncertainty, risk, and incentives: theory and evidence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-18, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Golman, Russell & Bhatia, Sudeep, 2012. "Performance evaluation inflation and compression," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 534-543.
  12. Laux, Volker, 2012. "Stock option vesting conditions, CEO turnover, and myopic investment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(3), pages 513-526.

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