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Investments in physical capital, relationship-specificity, and the property rights approach

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  • Schmitz, Patrick W.

Abstract

We reconsider the property rights approach to the theory of the firm based on incomplete contracts. We explore the implications of different degrees of relationship-specificity when there are two parties, A and B, who can make investments in physical capital (instead of human capital). If relationship-specificity is exogenously given, it turns out that joint asset ownership can be optimal only if the degree of relationship-specificity is sufficiently small. If relationship-specificity can be freely chosen and if party A’s investments are more productive, then the parties deliberately choose a strictly positive level of relationship-specificity and they always agree on sole ownership by party A.

Suggested Citation

  • Schmitz, Patrick W., 2013. "Investments in physical capital, relationship-specificity, and the property rights approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 336-339.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:119:y:2013:i:3:p:336-339
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2013.03.017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
    2. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
    3. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1999. "Foundations of Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 115-138.
    4. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    5. Maija Halonen, 2002. "Reputation And The Allocation Of Ownership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 539-558, July.
    6. Patrick W. Schmitz, 2006. "Information Gathering, Transaction Costs, and the Property Rights Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 422-434, March.
    7. Oliver Hart, 2011. "Thinking about the Firm: A Review of Daniel Spulber's The Theory of the Firm," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 101-113, March.
    8. Muthoo,Abhinay, 1999. "Bargaining Theory with Applications," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521576475, October.
    9. David de Meza & Ben Lockwood, 1998. "Does Asset Ownership Always Motivate Managers? Outside Options and the Property Rights Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386.
    10. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
    11. Kurt Annen, 2009. "Efficiency out of disorder: Contested ownership in incomplete contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 597-610.
    12. Schmitz, Patrick W., 2008. "Joint ownership and the hold-up problem under asymmetric information," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(3), pages 577-580, June.
    13. Chiu, Y Stephen, 1998. "Noncooperative Bargaining, Hostages, and Optimal Asset Ownership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 882-901, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:indorg:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:133-164 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Valeria Gattai & Piergiovanna Natale, 2014. "Joint Ventures and the Property Rights Theory of the Firm: a Review of the Literature," Working Papers 287, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2014.
    3. Valeria, Gattai & Piergiovanna, Natale, 2016. "Optimal Ownership Regime in the Presence of Investment Spillovers," Working Papers 332, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 29 Mar 2016.
    4. repec:sae:ausman:v:42:y:2017:i:4:p:692-707 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gattai, Valeria & Natale, Piergiovanna, 2016. "Investment spillovers and the allocation of property rights," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 109-113.
    6. repec:bla:jecsur:v:31:y:2017:i:1:p:281-302 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ownership; Incomplete contracts; Relationship-specificity; Theory of the firm; Investment incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures

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