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Incentives for Experimenting Agents

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    Abstract

    We examine a repeated interaction between an agent, who undertakes experiments, and a principal who provides the requisite funding for these experiments. The agent's actions are hidden, and the principal, who makes the offers, cannot commit to future actions. We identify the unique Markovian equilibrium (whose structure depends on the parameters) and characterize the set of all equilibrium payoffs, uncovering a collection of non-Markovian equilibria that can Pareto dominate and reverse the qualitative properties of the Markovian equilibrium. The prospect of lucrative continuation payoffs makes it more expensive for the principal to incentivize the agent, giving rise to a dynamic agency cost. As a result, constrained efficient equilibrium outcomes call for nonstationary outcomes that front-load the agent's effort and that either attenuate or terminate the relationship inefficiently early.

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    File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d17a/d1726.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1726.

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    Length: 65 pages
    Date of creation: Sep 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1726

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    Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

    Related research

    Keywords: Experimentation; Learning; Agency; Dynamic agency; Venture capital; Repeated principal-agent problem;

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    1. Francesca Cornelli & Oved Yosha, 2003. "Stage Financing and the Role of Convertible Securities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 1-32, January.
    2. Dirk Bergemann & Ulrich Hege & Liang Peng, 2009. "Venture Capital and Sequential Investments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000046, David K. Levine.
    3. Gerardi, Dino & Maestri, Lucas, 2012. "A principal-agent model of sequential testing," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 7(3), September.
    4. Asher Blass & Oved Yosha, 2003. "Financing R&D in mature companies: An empirical analysis," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(5), pages 425-447.
    5. 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.
    6. Francesca Cornelli & Oved Yosha, 2003. "Stage Financing and the Role of Convertible Securities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 1-32.
    7. Dirk Bergemann & Ulrigh Hege, 2005. "The Financing of Innovation: Learning and Stopping," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(4), pages 719-752, Winter.
    8. Doepke, Matthias & Townsend, Robert M, 2004. "Dynamic Mechanism Design with Hidden Income and Hidden Auctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 4455, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Peeters, Carine & Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno van, 2003. "Measuring Innovation Competencies and Performances: A Survey of Large Firms in Belgium," IIR Working Paper 03-16, Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    10. Mason, Robin & Välimäki, Juuso, 2008. "Dynamic Moral Hazard and Project Completion," CEPR Discussion Papers 6857, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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