IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/jemstr/v16y2007i4p911-942.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Does Making Specific Investments Unobservable Boost Investment Incentives?

Author

Listed:
  • Randolph Sloof
  • Hessel Oosterbeek
  • Joep Sonnemans

Abstract

Standard theory predicts that holdup can be alleviated by making specific investments unobservable; private information creates an informational rent that boosts investment incentives. Empirical findings, however, indicate that holdup is attenuated by fairness and reciprocity motivations. Private information may interfere with these, as it becomes impossible to observe whether the investor behaved fair or not. In that way unobservability could crowd out an informal fairness/reciprocity mechanism in place. This paper reports on an experiment to investigate this issue empirically. Our results are in line with standard predictions when there is limited scope for social preferences. But with sufficient scope for these motivational factors, unobservability does not boost specific investments.

Suggested Citation

  • Randolph Sloof & Hessel Oosterbeek & Joep Sonnemans, 2007. "Does Making Specific Investments Unobservable Boost Investment Incentives?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 911-942, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:16:y:2007:i:4:p:911-942
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-9134.2007.00162.x
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-9134.2007.00162.x
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Schmidt, Klaus M, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization: An Incomplete Contracts Approach," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-24, April.
    3. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
    4. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives-Trust and Trustworthiness Among CEOs," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 743-771, September.
    5. Hackett, Steven C, 1994. "Is Relational Exchange Possible in the Absence of Reputations and Repeated Contact?," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 360-389, October.
    6. Hessel Oosterbeek & Joep Sonnemans & Susan van Velzen, 2003. "The need for marriage contracts: An experimental study," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(3), pages 431-453, August.
    7. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    8. Hackett, Steven C, 1993. "Incomplete Contracting: A Laboratory Experimental Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 274-297, April.
    9. 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.
    10. Patrick Gonzàlez, 2004. "Investment and Screening Under Asymmetric Endogenous Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(3), pages 502-519, Autumn.
    11. Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Procurement and Renegotiation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 235-259, April.
    12. Hessel Oosterbeek & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2007. "Promotion Rules and Skill Acquisition: An Experimental Study," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(294), pages 259-297, May.
    13. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2005. "Sunk costs and fairness in incomplete information bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 155-177, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Marie-Laure Allain & Claire Chambolle & Patrick Rey & Sabrina Teyssier, 2015. "Vertical integration as a source of hold-up: an experiment," Post-Print hal-02104547, HAL.
    2. Brice Corgnet & Roberto Hernán-González, 2019. "Revisiting the Trade-off Between Risk and Incentives: The Shocking Effect of Random Shocks?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(3), pages 1096-1114, March.
    3. Kübler, Dorothea & Müller, Wieland & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2008. "Job-market signaling and screening: An experimental comparison," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 219-236, September.
    4. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.
    5. Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "The interaction between explicit and relational incentives: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 573-594.
    6. Sloof, Randolph, 2008. "Price-setting power vs. private information: An experimental evaluation of their impact on holdup," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 469-486, April.
    7. Corgnet, Brice & Martin, Ludivine & Ndodjang, Peguy & Sutan, Angela, 2019. "On the merit of equal pay: Performance manipulation and incentive setting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 23-45.
    8. Morita, Hodaka & Servátka, Maroš, 2013. "Group identity and relation-specific investment: An experimental investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 95-109.
    9. Lisa Bruttel & Gerald Eisenkopf, 2009. "Incentive Compatible Contracts?," TWI Research Paper Series 43, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    10. Kaiming Zheng & Xiaoyuan Wang & Debing Ni & Yang Yang, 2020. "Reciprocity and Veto Power in Relation-Specific Investments: An Experimental Study," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(10), pages 1-19, May.
    11. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    12. Ismail Saglam, 2019. "The Effect of Awareness and Observability on the Non-contractible Investment of a Regulated Natural Monopoly," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 617-639, December.
    13. Mathias Erlei & J. Philipp Siemer, 2014. "Endogenous Property Rights in a Hold-up Experiment," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 237-270, May.
    14. Russell Golman & David Hagmann & George Loewenstein, 2017. "Information Avoidance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 96-135, March.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.
    2. Randolph Sloof, 2003. "Price-setting Power versus Private Information," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-099/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    3. Sloof, Randolph, 2008. "Price-setting power vs. private information: An experimental evaluation of their impact on holdup," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 469-486, April.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Susanne Kremhelmer & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2008. "Fairness and the Optimal Allocation of Ownership Rights," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(531), pages 1262-1284, August.
    5. Faravelli, Marco & Kirchkamp, Oliver & Rainer, Helmut, 2013. "The effect of power imbalances on incentives to make non-contractible investments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 169-185.
    6. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2009. "Time is not money," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 96-102, October.
    7. Cunyat, Antoni & Sloof, Randolph, 2011. "Employee types and endogenous organizational design: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 553-573.
    8. Klor, Esteban F. & Shayo, Moses, 2010. "Social identity and preferences over redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(3-4), pages 269-278, April.
    9. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 1-48.
    10. Pelligra, Vittorio, 2010. "Trust responsiveness. On the dynamics of fiduciary interactions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 653-660, December.
    11. Ellingsen, Tore & Robles, Jack, 2002. "Does Evolution Solve the Hold-Up Problem?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 28-53, April.
    12. Morita, Hodaka & Servátka, Maroš, 2013. "Group identity and relation-specific investment: An experimental investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 95-109.
    13. Barmettler, Franziska & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2012. "Big experimenter is watching you! Anonymity and prosocial behavior in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 17-34.
    14. Cleave, Blair L. & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Slonim, Robert, 2010. "Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments?," Working Papers 2010-01, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    15. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism – Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 66, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    16. Martin Holmen & Felix Holzmeister & Michael Kirchler & Matthias Stefan & Erik Wengström, 2021. "Economic Preferences and Personality Traits Among Finance Professionals and the General Population," Working Papers 2021-03, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    17. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
    18. John A. List, 2006. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-37, February.
    19. Bodo Sturm & Joachim Weimann, 2006. "Experiments in Environmental Economics and Some Close Relatives," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 419-457, July.
    20. Minkler, Lanse, 2004. "Shirking and motivations in firms: survey evidence on worker attitudes," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 863-884, June.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:16:y:2007:i:4:p:911-942. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley Content Delivery). General contact details of provider: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/journals/JEMS/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.