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Does Making Specific Investments Unobservable Boost Investment Incentives?

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  • 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." Copyright 2007, The Author(s) Journal Compilation (c) 2007 Blackwell Publishing.

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
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Morita, Hodaka & Servátka, Maroš, 2013. "Group identity and relation-specific investment: An experimental investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 95-109.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    6. Mathias Erlei & J. Philipp Siemer, 2014. "Endogenous Property Rights in a Hold-up Experiment," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 237-270, May.
    7. Russell Golman & David Hagmann & George Loewenstein, 2017. "Information Avoidance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 96-135, March.
    8. 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.
    9. Lisa Bruttel & Gerald Eisenkopf, 2009. "Incentive Compatible Contracts?," TWI Research Paper Series 43, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.

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