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Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts

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  • Bajari, Patrick
  • Tadelis, Steven

Abstract

Inspired by facts from the private-sector construction industry, we develop a model that explains many stylized facts of procurement contracts. The buyer in our model incurs a cost of providing a comprehensive design and is faced with a tradeoff between providing incentives and reducing ex post transaction costs due to costly renegotiation. We show that cost-plus contracts are preferred to fixed-price contracts when a project is more complex. We briefly discuss how fixed-price or cost-plus contracts might be preferred to other incentive contracts. Finally, our model provides some microfoundations for ideas from Transaction Cost Economics. Copyright 2001 by the RAND Corporation.

Suggested Citation

  • Bajari, Patrick & Tadelis, Steven, 2001. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 387-407, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:32:y:2001:i:3:p:387-407
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    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L74 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Construction

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