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Incomplete contracts, shared ownership, and investment incentives

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  • Schmitz, Patrick W.

Abstract

Consider a partnership consisting of two symmetrically informed parties who may each own a share of an asset. It is ex post efficient that tomorrow the party with the larger valuation gets the asset. Yet, today the parties can make investments to enhance the asset's productivity. Contracts are incomplete, so today only the ownership structure can be specified, which may be renegotiated tomorrow. It turns out that shared ownership is often optimal. If the investments are embodied in the physical asset, it may be optimal that party B has a larger ownership share even when party A has a larger valuation and a better investment technology. When shared ownership is taken into account, joint ownership in the sense of bilateral veto power cannot be optimal, regardless of whether the investments are in human capital or in physical capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Schmitz, Patrick W., 2017. "Incomplete contracts, shared ownership, and investment incentives," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 153-165.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:144:y:2017:i:c:p:153-165
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.09.021
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Property rights; Incomplete contracts; Investment incentives; Partnership dissolution; Shared ownership;

    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
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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