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Delegation and Information Revelation

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  • Axel Gautier

    (IRES and UCL)

  • Dimitri Paolini

    (IRES and UCL)

Abstract

This paper addresses the question of delegation in a principal-agent setting with asymmetric information. If the person who has the power to act, the principal, doesn't have the necessary information to make the best possible decision, she can address herself to someone, the agent, who has this information. Such delegation of authority has its drawbacks given that the agent may not implement the principal's ideal decision. Delegation is costly for the principal. This cost is called the loss of control. But delegation has also its benefits. We show that delegation is useful to reduce the initial asymmetry of information between the principal and the agent. The benefits of delegation are linked to the information transmitted by the agent to the principal. To show this, we model an organization composed of one principal and one agent. The organization should take a sequence of decisions that are affected by a common environemental parameter. We assume that there is an initial asymmetry of information between the principal and the subordinate agent: the agent knows the state of the world while the principal has only some prior about its distribution. Moreover, we assume that the principal cannot use revelation techniques la Baron Myerson to elicit agent's superior information. In contrast, we adopt an incomplete contract framework and posit that the decision and the state of the world parameter cannot be contracted for. Therefore, the remaining contracting variable is the allocation of decision rights. With these simple contracts, we study how the agent's decision can signal his information to the principal. When the agent is in charge of a decision, his decision signals his information to the principal. The trade off between information transmitted through decisions under delegation and the associated loss of control is the heart of our analysis.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 1292.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1292

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  1. Milton Harris & Artur Raviv, 1997. "Capital Budgeting and Delegation," CRSP working papers 452, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  2. John G. Riley, 1976. "Informational Equilibrium," UCLA Economics Working Papers 071, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. V. Crawford & J. Sobel, 2010. "Strategic Information Transmission," Levine's Working Paper Archive 544, David K. Levine.
  4. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  5. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
  6. Hardman Moore, John & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," CEPR Discussion Papers 60, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Felli, Leonardo & Hortala-Vallve, Rafael, 2011. "Preventing Collusion through Discretion," CEPR Discussion Papers 8302, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
  9. Martimort, David, 1997. " A Theory of Bureaucratization Based on Reciprocity and Collusive Behavior," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(4), pages 555-79, December.
  10. Freixas, Xavier & Guesnerie, Roger & Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Planning under Incomplete Information and the Ratchet Effect," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 173-91, April.
  11. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-75, September.
  12. Legros Patrick, 1993. "Information Revelation in Repeated Delegation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 98-117, January.
  13. Melumad, Nahum & Mookherjee, Dilip & Reichelstein, Stefan, 1992. "A theory of responsibility centers," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 445-484, December.
  14. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
  15. Myerson, Roger B., 1982. "Optimal coordination mechanisms in generalized principal-agent problems," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 67-81, June.
  16. Armstrong, M., 1994. "Delegation and discretion," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9421, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
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Cited by:
  1. Axel Gautier & Dimitri Paolini, 2007. "Delegation, Externalities and Organizational Design," CREPP Working Papers 0709, Centre de Recherche en Economie Publique et de la Population (CREPP) (Research Center on Public and Population Economics) HEC-Management School, University of Liège.
  2. Krahmer, Daniel, 2006. "Message-contingent delegation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 490-506, August.

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