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Long-Term Contracts and Short-Term Commitment: Price Determination for Heterogeneous Freight Transactions

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  • Scott E. Masten

Abstract

This paper considers a class of contracts in which parties write detailed, long-term performance obligations that leave one or both parties with broad discretion to terminate the agreement on short notice with little or no penalty. I argue that formal contracts may be valuable, even where trade involves little or no relationship-specific investment and termination is the only remedy, as a way of economizing on the cost of determining prices for a series of heterogeneous transactions. Evidence from a survey of truck drivers shows both the general structure of contracts between freight carriers and drivers and the manner in which hauls are priced to be consistent with the goal of economizing on renegotiation costs. Copyright 2009, Oxford University Press.

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  • Scott E. Masten, 2009. "Long-Term Contracts and Short-Term Commitment: Price Determination for Heterogeneous Freight Transactions," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 79-111.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:11:y:2009:i:1:p:79-111
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/aler/ahp005
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Anjana Susarla, 2012. "Contractual Flexibility, Rent Seeking, and Renegotiation Design: An Empirical Analysis of Information Technology Outsourcing Contracts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(7), pages 1388-1407, July.
    2. Dubois, Pierre & Vukina, Tomislav, 2009. "Incentives to Invest in Short-term vs. Long-term Contracts: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," IDEI Working Papers 590, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Dec 2009.
    3. Scott, Alex, 2015. "The value of information sharing for truckload shippers," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 203-214.
    4. Brodrechtova, Yvonne, 2015. "Economic valuation of long-term timber contracts: Empirical evidence from Germany," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1-9.
    5. Giorgio Zanarone & Desmond (Ho-Fu) Lo & Tammy L. Madsen, 2016. "The double-edged effect of knowledge acquisition: How contracts safeguard pre-existing resources," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(10), pages 2104-2120, October.
    6. Maija Halonen-Akatwijuka & Oliver Hart, 2015. "Short-term, Long-term, and Continuing Contracts," NBER Working Papers 21005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Maija Halonen-Akatwijuka & Oliver Hart, 2015. "Continuing Contracts," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 15/665, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK, revised 12 Oct 2016.

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