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Signalling and the design of delegated management contracts for public utilities


  • David Martimort
  • Wilfried Sand‐Zantman


This article analyzes the shape of contracts between local governments and the contractors they hire to run public facilities on their behalf. Governments are privately informed about the quality of the facility while risk neutral contractors undertake a non-verifiable operating effort. The design of the contract signals the quality of the facility in such a way that the better this quality, the greater the share of operating risk kept by the government. This feature reduces the agent's marginal incentives, creating a trade-off between signaling and moral hazard. We provide extensions of our framework in several directions allowing for risk aversion on the agent's side, double moral hazard and political delegation. The model is supported by some stylized facts from the water industry.
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Suggested Citation

  • David Martimort & Wilfried Sand‐Zantman, 2006. "Signalling and the design of delegated management contracts for public utilities," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 763-782, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:763-782 DOI: j.1756-2171.2006.tb00056.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Cavaliere & Mario Maggi & Francesca Stroffolini, 2015. "A Normative Analysis of Local Public Utilities: Investments in Water Networks," IEFE Working Papers 80, IEFE, Center for Research on Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    2. Martimort, D. & Poudou, J.-C. & Sand-Zantman, W., 2006. "Contracting for an Innovation under Bilateral Asymmetric Information," Cahiers du LASER (LASER Working Papers) 2006.19, LASER (Laboratoire de Science Economique de Richter), Faculty of Economics, University of Montpellier 1.
    3. David Martimort & Flavio Menezes & Myrna Wooders & ELISABETTA IOSSA & DAVID MARTIMORT, 2015. "The Simple Microeconomics of Public-Private Partnerships," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(1), pages 4-48, February.
    4. François Destandau & Serge Garcia, 2014. "Service quality, scale economies and ownership: an econometric analysis of water supply costs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 152-182, October.
    5. Elisabetta Iossa & David Martimort, 2012. "Risk allocation and the costs and benefits of public--private partnerships," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(3), pages 442-474, September.
    6. Iossa, Elisabetta & Martimort, David, 2016. "Corruption in PPPs, incentives and contract incompleteness," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 85-100.
    7. Malin Arve & David Martimort, 2016. "Dynamic Procurement under Uncertainty: Optimal Design and Implications for Incomplete Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3238-3274, November.
    8. Eshien Chong & Freddy Huet, 2010. "Partenariats public-privé et investissements de fin de contrat : le cas de l'industrie de l'eau en France," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 76(4), pages 413-448.
    9. Arve, Malin, 2014. "Procurement and predation: Dynamic sourcing from financially constrained suppliers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 157-168.
    10. Elisabetta Iossa & David Martimort, 2011. "The Theory of Incentives Applied to the Transport Sector," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Transport Economics, chapter 29 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Heiko Karle & Christian Staat, 2013. "Signaling Quality with Initially Reduced Royalty Rates," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2013-44, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    12. Angela S. Bergantino & Etienne Billette De Villemeur & Annalisa Vinella, 2011. "Partial Regulation in Vertically Differentiated Industries," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(2), pages 255-287, April.
    13. Georges Assaf, A. & Gillen, David, 2012. "Measuring the joint impact of governance form and economic regulation on airport efficiency," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 220(1), pages 187-198.
    14. Alberto Cavaliere & Mario Maggi & Francesca Stroffolini, 2015. "Investments in Water Networks: A Normative Analysis of Local Public Utilities," DEM Working Papers Series 098, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.
    15. repec:bri:cmpowp:13/325 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Schumacher, Heiner & Thysen, Heidi, 2017. "Equilibrium Contracts and Boundedly Rational Expectations," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168085, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    17. Vasconcelos, Luís, 2017. "A signaling-based theory of contractual commitment to relationships," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 123-138.

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