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Contract Renegotiation in Agency Problems

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  • 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. Che, Y.K. & Chung, Y.T., 1996. "Contract Damages and Cooperative Investments," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9612, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  2. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1990. "Moral Hazard and Renegotiation in Agency Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1279-1319, November.
  3. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1985. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," Working papers 367, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Nöldeke, Georg & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1997. "Sequential Investments and Options to Own," CEPR Discussion Papers 1645, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Hermalin, Benjamin E. & Katz, Michael L., 1990. "Moral Hazard and Verifiability: The Effects of Renegotiation in Agency," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1678w3w9, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. 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.
  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. Ma, C.A., 1991. "Renegotiation and Optimality in Agency Contracts," Papers 29, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
  9. Joel S. Demski & David E.M. Sappington, 1991. "Resolving Double Moral Hazard Problems with Buyout Agreements," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(2), pages 232-240, Summer.
  10. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1997. "Incomplete Contracts and Strategic Ambiguity," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1787, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  11. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  13. Mathias Dewatripont & Philippe Aghion & Patrick Rey, 1994. "Renegotiation design with unverifiable information," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9591, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  14. Che, Y.K. & Hausch, D.B., 1996. "Cooperative Investments and the Value of Contracting: Coase vs Williamson," Working papers 9608, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  15. 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.
  16. Rogerson, William P, 1992. "Contractual Solutions to the Hold-Up Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 777-93, October.
  17. Chung, Tai-Yeong, 1991. "Incomplete Contracts, Specific Investments, and Risk Sharing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(5), pages 1031-42, October.
  18. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Scholarly Articles 12375014, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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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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