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Free Riding in Procurement Design

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  • Barbosa, Klenio

Abstract

Low-powered contracts do not provide proper incentives to reduce cost; still empirical studies show that they are quite pervasive in public and private procurement. This paper argues that low-powered contracts arise due to a free-riding problem when the contractor enjoys economies of scale/scope working for different buyers. A buyer, offering a procurement contract to the contractor, does not fully internalize that higher-powered incentives provide cost reduction in the contractor's activities, benefiting other buyers. As a result, buyers offer lower-powered contracts than what would be designed by cooperative buyers. Strikingly, the higher the contractor's benefits from economies of scope/scale are, the lower the power of the procurement contracts will be. In addition, laws which force buyers to award fixed-price contracts can be welfare-enhancing.

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Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 09-128.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:22251

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Keywords: free-riding; procurement; multibuyers;

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  1. Levin, Jonathan & Athey, Susan, 2001. "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions," Scholarly Articles 3612768, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Martimort, D., 1992. "Exclusive Dealing, Common Agency and Multiprincipals Incentive Thoery," Papers 92.278, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
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