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The Hold-up Problem Under Common Agency

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  • Antonio Nicita

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  • Simone Sepe

    ()

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    Abstract

    Many real world transactions occur in a common agency environment in which an agent interacts with several principals having competing interests. The hold-up literature, however, has so far neglected to investigate common agency transactions. In this paper, we consider the hold-up problem that arises in a context where there are a monopolistic seller and multiple buyers on the one side and all the parties on the other are required to make specific self-investments. Our contribution is twofold. First, we show that absent initial contracts (i.e., preliminary agreements) between the parties, total efficiency increases when the buyers act competitively using implicit contractual coordination, i.e., contractual menus. Second, we show that introducing initial simple contracts allows parties to reach the first best only under cooperative common agency. Absent this machinery, competition among the principals emerges as a more efficient governance structure for common agency in incomplete transactions.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 636.

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    Date of creation: May 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:636

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    Keywords: incomplete contracts; common agency; mechanism design;

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    1. Georg Nöldeke & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1992. "Option Contracts and Renegotiation - A Solution to the Hold-Up Problem," Discussion Paper Serie A 417, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Aug 1993.
    2. Claude Ménard, 2004. "The Economics of Hybrid Organizations," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 345-, September.
    3. Francine Lafontaine & Kathryn L. Shaw, 2001. "Targeting Managerial Control: Evidence from Franchising," NBER Working Papers 8416, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Francine Lafontaine, 1992. "Agency Theory and Franchising: Some Empirical Results," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 263-283, Summer.
    5. Chiesa, Gabriella & Denicolò, Vincenzo, 2009. "Trading with a common agent under complete information: A characterization of Nash equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 296-311, January.
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