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Consumers and Agency Problems

  • Canice Prendergast

    (University of Chicago and NBER)

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    Consumers solve many agency problems, by pointing out when they believe that agents have made mistakes. I consider the role that consumers play in inducing efficient behaviour by agents. I distinguish cases where consumers have similar preferences to the principal, from those where they diverge. In the former case, allowing consumer feedback improves allocations, and increasing consumer information is unambiguously beneficial. Where consumers disagree with principals over desired outcomes, which characterises many public sector benefits, consumers" feedback about the performance of agents can reduce welfare. This may result in efficiently restricting the ability of consumers to complain about agent performance. Copyright Royal Economic Society 2002.

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    Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal Economic Journal.

    Volume (Year): 112 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 478 (March)
    Pages: C34-C51

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    Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:112:y:2002:i:478:p:c34-c51
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    1. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    2. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1988. "Incentives in Academics: Why Is There Tenure?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 453-72, June.
    3. Milbourn, Todd T & Shockley, Richard L & Thakor, Anjan V, 2001. "Managerial Career Concerns and Investments in Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 334-51, Summer.
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