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Contract Renegotiation in Agency Problems

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Author Info

  • Aaron S. Edlin

    (University of California at Berkeley)

  • Benjamin E. Hermalin

    (University of California at Berkeley)

Abstract

This paper studies the ability of an agent and a principal to achieve the first-best outcome when the agent invests in an asset that has greater value if owned by the principal than by the agent. When contracts can be renegotiated, a well-known danger is that the principal can holdup the agent, undermining the agent's investment incentives. We begin by identifying a countervailing effect: Investment by the agent can increase his value for the asset, thus improving his bargaining position in renegotiation. We show that option contracts will achieve the first best whenever this threat-point effect dominates the holdup effect. Otherwise, achieving the first best is difficult and, in many cases, impossible. In such cases, we show that if parties have an appropriate signal available, then the first best is still attainable for a wide class of bargaining procedures. A noisy signal, however, means that the optimal contract will involve terms that courts might view as punitive and so refuse to enforce.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mic/papers/9705/9705002.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 9705002.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 23 May 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:9705002

Note: Type of Document - PDF; prepared on IBM PC ; pages: 33; figures: included
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: Contract renegotiation; double moral hazard; relationship- specific investment;

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References

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  1. Hardman Moore, John & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," CEPR Discussion Papers 60, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  3. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1998. "Incomplete Contracts and Strategic Ambiguity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 902-32, September.
  5. Nöldeke, Georg & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "Sequential investments and options to own," Munich Reprints in Economics 19327, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Ma, Ching-To Albert, 1994. "Renegotiation and Optimality in Agency Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 109-29, January.
  7. Georg Noldeke & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1995. "Option Contracts and Renegotiation: A Solution to the Hold-Up Problem," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(2), pages 163-179, Summer.
  8. Chung, Tai-Yeong, 1991. "Incomplete Contracts, Specific Investments, and Risk Sharing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(5), pages 1031-42, October.
  9. Hermalin, Benjamin E & Katz, Michael L, 1993. "Judicial Modification of Contracts between Sophisticated Parties: A More Complete View of Incomplete Contracts and Their Breach," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 230-55, October.
  10. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1988. "Moral Hazard and Renegotiation in Agency Contracts," Working papers 494, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 257-82, March.
  12. Rogerson, William P, 1992. "Contractual Solutions to the Hold-Up Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 777-93, October.
  13. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Hermalin, Benjamin E & Katz, Michael L, 1991. "Moral Hazard and Verifiability: The Effects of Renegotiation in Agency," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1735-53, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Amin, Mohammad & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2006. "Can guest worker schemes reduce illegal migration ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3828, The World Bank.

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