Strategic Shirking in Bilateral Trade
AbstractThis paper explores a version of the canonical holdup model where agents undertake specific investments prior to their transaction. In this setting, we identify a novel reason for contractual inefficiency. An investing party (here, the seller) may shirk for strategic reasons, in particular, exert an effort so low that subsequent trade becomes inefficient. We first show that under a fixed-price contract which would otherwise be optimal and induce trade, strategic shirking can arise irrespective of the precontracted trade price. We then establish that if strategic shirking arises under a fixed-price contract, no general mechanism exists which restores efficient trade. Finally, we show that the defection issue is more severe when the parties trade after the buyer's valuation was realized, as compared to a scenario where the trade transaction is finalized in a state of uncertainty.
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Date of creation: Oct 2007
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
- H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
- L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-12-01 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2007-12-01 (Business Economics)
- NEP-INT-2007-12-01 (International Trade)
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