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Rigidity, Discretion, and the Costs of Writing Contracts

  • Pierpaolo Battigalli
  • Giovanni Maggi

In this paper we model contract incompleteness "from the ground up," as arising endogenously from the costs of describing the environment and the parties' behavior. Optimal contracts may exhibit two forms of incompleteness: discretion, meaning that the contract does not specify the parties' behavior with sufficient detail; and rigidity, meaning that the parties' obligations are not sufficiently contingent on the external state. The model sheds light on the determinants of rigidity and discretion in contracts, and yields rich predictions regarding the impact of changes in the exogenous parameters on the degree and form of contract incompleteness. (JEL D23, D8, L14)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/00028280260344470
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 92 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 798-817

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:92:y:2002:i:4:p:798-817
Note: DOI: 10.1257/00028280260344470
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  1. Al-Najjar, Nabil I. & Anderlini, Luca & Felli, Leonardo, 2002. "Unforeseen Contingencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 3271, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1992. "Measurement Distortion and Missing Contingencies in Optimal Contracts," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-26, January.
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