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Contracts and Technology Adoption

  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Pol Antràs
  • Elhanan Helpman

We develop a tractable framework for the analysis of the relationship between contractual incompleteness, technological complementarities, and technology adoption. In our model, a firm chooses its technology and investment levels in contractible activities by suppliers of intermediate inputs. Suppliers then choose investments in noncontractible activities, anticipating payoffs from an ex post bargaining game. We show that greater contractual incompleteness leads to the adoption of less advanced technologies, and that the impact of contractual incompleteness is more pronounced when there is greater complementary among the intermediate inputs. We study a number of applications of the main framework and show that the mechanism proposed in the paper can generate sizable productivity differences across countries with different contracting institutions, and that differences in contracting institutions lead to endogenous comparative advantage differences. (JEL D86, O33)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 97 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 916-943

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:3:p:916-943
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.3.916
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  2. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
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  21. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
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  31. Ana Hidalgo & Andres Erosa, 2004. "On Capital Market Imperfections as an Origin of Low TFP and Economic Rents," 2004 Meeting Papers 16, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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