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Optimal contracts with team production and hidden information: An experiment

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  • Cabrales, Antonio
  • Charness, Gary

Abstract

We devise an experiment to explore optimal contracts in a hidden-information context. A principal offers one of three possible contract menus to a team of two agents of unknown skill levels, with both agents' participation needed for production. We observe numerous rejections of the more lopsided menus, and principals respond by offering more favorable menus. Apart from rejections, we see almost complete separation in agent choices according to the agent types. Behavior converges towards a consensus in which one of the more equitable menus is proposed and agents accept a contract. The consensus menu differs across two treatments in which we vary the payoffs resulting from a rejection. We find strong evidence of social learning by low-skill agents (but only for low-skilled agents), in that a low-skill agent is more likely to reject a contract menu if her teammate rejected a contract menu in the previous period. In addition, low-skilled agents have a particularly adverse reaction to reduced wage offers.

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  • Cabrales, Antonio & Charness, Gary, 2011. "Optimal contracts with team production and hidden information: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 163-176, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:77:y:2011:i:2:p:163-176
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    6. Cabrales, Antonio & Charness, Gary & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2006. "Competition, hidden information, and efficiency : an experiment," UC3M Working papers. Economics we071909, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
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    8. Corgnet, Brice & Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín & Hernán-González, Roberto, 2018. "Goal setting in the principal–agent model: Weak incentives for strong performance," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 311-326.
    9. Eva I. Hoppe & Patrick W. Schmitz, 2013. "Contracting under Incomplete Information and Social Preferences: An Experimental Study," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1516-1544.
    10. Kocher, Martin G. & Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Sutter, Matthias, 2012. "Testing a forgotten aspect of Akerlof’s gift exchange hypothesis: Relational contracts with individual and uniform wages," Discussion Papers in Economics 12816, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    11. Arce, Daniel G., 2013. "Principals’ preferences for agents with social preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 154-163.
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    13. Hoppe, Eva I & Schmitz, Patrick W, 2009. "Gathering Information before Signing a Contract: Experimental Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7252, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Priyodorshi Banerjee & P. Srikant & Sujoy Chakravarty, 2020. "Contracting Outcomes with Communication and Learning," Studies in Microeconomics, , vol. 8(1), pages 18-43, June.

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