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Relational Contracts and the Value of Relationships

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  • Marina Halac

Abstract

This article studies optimal relational contracts when the value of the relationship between contracting parties is not commonly known. I consider a principal-agent setting where the principal has persistent private information about her outside option. I show that if the principal has the bargaining power, she wants to understate her outside option to provide strong incentives and then renege on promised payments, while if the uninformed agent has the bargaining power, the principal wants to overstate her outside option to capture more surplus. I characterize how information is revealed, how the relationship evolves, and how this depends on bargaining power. (JEL C78, D82, D83, D86)

Suggested Citation

  • Marina Halac, 2012. "Relational Contracts and the Value of Relationships," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 750-779, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:2:p:750-79
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • 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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