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Knightian uncertainty and moral hazard

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  • Lopomo, Giuseppe
  • Rigotti, Luca
  • Shannon, Chris

Abstract

This paper presents a principal-agent model in which the agent has imprecise beliefs. We model this situation formally by assuming the agent[modifier letter apostrophe]s preferences are incomplete as in Bewley (1986) [2]. In this setting, incentives must be robust to Knightian uncertainty. We study the implications of robustness for the form of the resulting optimal contracts. We give conditions under which there is a unique optimal contract, and show that it must have a simple flat payment plus bonus structure. That is, output levels are divided into two sets, and the optimal contract pays the same wage for all output levels in each set. We derive this result for the case in which the agent[modifier letter apostrophe]s utility function is linear and then show it also holds if this utility function has some limited curvature.

Suggested Citation

  • Lopomo, Giuseppe & Rigotti, Luca & Shannon, Chris, 2011. "Knightian uncertainty and moral hazard," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(3), pages 1148-1172, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:146:y:2011:i:3:p:1148-1172
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bewley,Truman, 1989. "Market innovation and entrepreneurship: A Knightian view," Discussion Paper Serie A 233, University of Bonn, Germany.
    2. Dubra, Juan & Maccheroni, Fabio & Ok, Efe A., 2004. "Expected utility theory without the completeness axiom," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 118-133, March.
    3. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
    4. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    5. Luca Rigotti & Chris Shannon, 2005. "Uncertainty and Risk in Financial Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 203-243, January.
    6. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-587, May.
    7. Truman F. Bewley, 1986. "Knightian Decision Theory: Part 1," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 807, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Chateauneuf, Alain & Jaffray, Jean-Yves, 1989. "Some characterizations of lower probabilities and other monotone capacities through the use of Mobius inversion," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 263-283, June.
    9. Paolo Ghirardato & Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci & Marciano Siniscalchi, 2003. "A Subjective Spin on Roulette Wheels," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1897-1908, November.
    10. Mukerji, Sujoy, 1998. "Ambiguity Aversion and Incompleteness of Contractual Form," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1207-1231, December.
    11. Luca Rigotti & Chris Shannon & Tomasz Strzalecki, 2008. "Subjective Beliefs and ex ante Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(5), pages 1167-1190, September.
    12. Truman F. Bewley, 1989. "Market Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A Knightian View," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 905, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    13. Truman F. Bewley, 1987. "Knightian Decision Theory, Part II. Intertemporal Problems," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 835, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jetheo:v:171:y:2017:i:c:p:64-100 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Corbae, Dean & Marimon, Ramon, 2011. "Introduction to Incompleteness and Uncertainty in Economics," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(3), pages 775-784, May.
    3. repec:spr:etbull:v:2:y:2014:i:2:d:10.1007_s40505-014-0037-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Garrett, Daniel F., 2014. "Robustness of simple menus of contracts in cost-based procurement," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 631-641.
    5. repec:eee:ecolet:v:164:y:2018:i:c:p:24-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kellner, Christian, 2015. "Tournaments as a response to ambiguity aversion in incentive contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 627-655.
    7. Giraud, Raphaël & Thomas, Lionel, 2017. "Ambiguity, optimism, and pessimism in adverse selection models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 64-100.
    8. repec:spr:reecde:v:21:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10058-017-0198-4 is not listed on IDEAS

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