Understanding Contract Audits: An Experimental Approach
AbstractContract audits aimed at reducing information asymmetry and transaction costs are frequently used in imperfect markets such as defense procurement. This contradicts predictions from standard economic theory. We conduct a laboratory experiment to investigate this paradox. Our laboratory setup allows us to investigate the conditions under which individuals decide to initiate a contract audit and to carefully assess its economic value. Our theoretical approach draws upon two distinct literatures. The theory of planned behaviour explains why organizations may engage in contract auditing even when markets are imperfect. Social preference theory explains why traders may adjust prices when a contract audit indicates that the original price yields an inequitable distribution of the surplus. Our results indeed show that audits lead to an increased share of the surplus for the buyer, but this increased welfare is completely offset by the audit costs. To further investigate motivations to initiate contract audits, we measure our subjects' attitudes towards contract auditing and their level of perceived behavioral control; and we manipulate subjective norms about having contract audits done. These treatments show that a positive attitude toward contract auditing, enhanced perceived behavioral control, and pressure to perform a contract audit all lead to more contract audits.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 11-031/1.
Date of creation: 11 Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl
contract auditing; experimental economics; value of the audit;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- M40 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Accounting - - - General
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
You can help add them by filling out this form.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Antoine Maartens (+31 626 - 160 892)).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.