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Relational Contracts and the Value of Loyalty

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  • Simon Board

Abstract

This paper characterizes the optimal contract for a principal who repeatedly chooses among N potential agents under the threat of holdup. Over time, the principal would like to trade with different agents; however, the possibility of ex-post opportunism allows agents to collect rents and creates a fixed cost of initiating new relationships. In the optimal contract, the principal divides agents into "insiders" with whom she trades efficiently, and "outsiders" whom she is biased against. The optimal contract is self-enforcing if the principal is sufficiently patient and can be implemented by an "employment contract" that is robust to asymmetric information. (JEL: C73, D82, D83, D86)

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Board, 2011. "Relational Contracts and the Value of Loyalty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3349-3367, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:7:p:3349-67
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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