Monitoring Gains and Decentralization
This paper analyzes the delegation of contracting capacity in a moral hazard environment with sequential production in a project which involves a principal and two agents. The agent in charge of the final production can obtain soft information about the other agent's effort choice by investing in monitoring. I investigate the circumstances under which it is optimal for the principal to use a centralized organization in which she designs the contracts with both agents or to use a decentralized organization in which she contracts with only one agent, and delegates the power to contract with the other agent. It is shown that in this setting a decentralized organization can be superior to a centralized organization. This is because the principal is better off under monitoring and the incentives for an agent to invest in monitoring can be higher in a decentralized organization. The circumstances under which this is true are related to monitoring costs and the importance of each agent for production. The results explain the recent application of the design-build method in public procurement.
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Volume (Year): 9 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
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