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The Effect of Sunk Costs on the Outcome of Alternating-Offers Bargaining Between Inequity-Averse Agents

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  • Christian Ewerhart

Abstract

When investments are specific to a relationship and contracting possibilities are incomplete, the efficiency of a joint venture may be severely impaired by ex-post opportunistic and hold-up type behavior. How is the logic of this argument affected by inequity aversion? In this paper I show that incentives to invest are stronger with inequity aversion because a higher investment by an individual agent increases not only the total surplus to be divided, but also, generally, the relative share of the surplus obtained by this agent in the ex-post negotiation. In fact, when production is sufficiently profitable and agents are sufficiently patient, then first-best investment levels may be approximated without any contract.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Ewerhart, 2006. "The Effect of Sunk Costs on the Outcome of Alternating-Offers Bargaining Between Inequity-Averse Agents," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 58(2), pages 184-203, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sbr:abstra:v:58:y:2006:i:2:p:184-203
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
    2. Bolton, Gary E, 1991. "A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1096-1136, December.
    3. Ochs, Jack & Roth, Alvin E, 1989. "An Experimental Study of Sequential Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 355-384, June.
    4. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    5. Troger, Thomas, 2002. "Why Sunk Costs Matter for Bargaining Outcomes: An Evolutionary Approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 375-402, February.
    6. Ellingsen, Tore & Robles, Jack, 2002. "Does Evolution Solve the Hold-Up Problem?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 28-53, April.
    7. Donald B. Hausch & Yeon-Koo Che, 1999. "Cooperative Investments and the Value of Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 125-147, March.
    8. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1984. "Involuntary Unemployment as a Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1351-1364, November.
    9. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
    10. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Rasch, Alexander & Wambach, Achim & Wiener, Kristina, 2012. "Bargaining and inequity aversion: On the efficiency of the double auction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 178-181.
    2. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.
    3. Korth, Christian & Napel, Stefan, 2009. "Fairness, price stickiness, and history dependence in decentralized trade," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 502-514, August.
    4. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2011. "Can contracts solve the hold-up problem? Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 186-199, September.
    5. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & Kosfeld, Michael, 2005. "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Trust and Social Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 1641, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Tania Singer & Ernst Fehr, 2005. "The Neuroeconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 340-345, May.
    7. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2007. "Calculating Tragedy: Assessing The Costs Of Terrorism," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 1-24, February.
    8. Siemens, Ferdinand von, 2005. "Bargaining under Incomplete Information, Fairness, and the Hold-Up Problem," Discussion Papers in Economics 518, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    9. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Christian Zehnder, "undated". "The Behavioral Effects of Minimum Wages," IEW - Working Papers 247, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    10. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.
    11. Siemens, Ferdinand von, 2005. "Bargaining under Incomplete Information, Fairness, and the Hold-Up Problem," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 57, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Alternating-Offers Bargaining; Inequity Aversion; Hold-Up Problem;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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