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Contractual Remedies to the Holdup Problem: A Dynamic Perspective

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  • Yeon-Koo Che
  • Jozsef Sakovics

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Abstract

An important theme of modern contract theory is the role contracts play to protect parties from the risk of holdup and thereby encouraging their relationship specific investments. While this perspective has generated valuable insights about various contracts, the underyling models abstract from realistic investment dynamics. We reexamine the role of contracts in a dynamic model that endogenizes the timing of investments and trade. The resulting interaction between bargaining and investment significantly alters the insights learned from static models. We show that contracts that would exacerbate the parties’ vulnerability to holdup — rather than those protecting them from the risk of holdup — can be desirable. For this reason, separate ownership of complementary assets can be optimal, an exclusivity agreement can protect the investments of its recipient, trade contracts can be beneficial with a purely cooperative investment, and the property rule can offer a better legal protection against externalities loss than the liability rule, much in contrast to the existing results (based on static models).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh in its series ESE Discussion Papers with number 100.

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Length: 40
Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:100

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  1. Yeon-Koo Che & József Sákovics, 2004. "A Dynamic Theory of Holdup," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(4), pages 1063-1103, 07.
  2. Aaron S. Edlin & Stefan Reichelstein, 1995. "Holdups, Standard Breach Remedies, and Optimal Investment," NBER Working Papers 5007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 257-82, March.
  4. Nöldeke, Georg & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1995. "Option contracts and renegotiation: A solution to the Hold-Up Problem," Munich Reprints in Economics 19329, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Foundations of Incomplete Contracts," NBER Working Papers 6726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
  7. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2002. "Relational Contracts And The Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 39-84, February.
  8. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-61, October.
  9. Chiu, Y Stephen, 1998. "Noncooperative Bargaining, Hostages, and Optimal Asset Ownership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 882-901, September.
  10. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2001. "Bringing the Market inside the Firm?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 212-218, May.
  11. Ilya Segal & Michael D. Whinston, 2000. "Exclusive Contracts and Protection of Investments," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 603-633, Winter.
  12. Macleod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1991. "Investments, Hold Up and the Reform of Market Contracts," Cahiers de recherche 9114, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  13. Maija Halonen, 2002. "Reputation And The Allocation Of Ownership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 539-558, July.
  14. David De Meza & Ben Lockwood, 1998. "Does Asset Ownership Always Motivate Managers? Outside Options And The Property Rights Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Matthew Ellman, 2004. "Specificity Revisited: The Role of Cross-Investments," Working Papers 150, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Matthew Ellman, 2006. "The optimal length of contracts with application to outsourcing," Economics Working Papers 965, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Chrysovalantou Milliou, 2004. "Exclusive Dealing And Compatibility Of Investments," Economics Working Papers we044919, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  4. Watson, Joel, 2006. "Contract and Mechanism Design in Settings with Multi-Period Trade," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt63s1s3j6, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  5. Bar-Isaac, Heski & Gavazza, Alessandro, 2013. "Brokers' contractual arrangements in the Manhattan residential rental market," MPRA Paper 43967, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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