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Contracts, Reference Points, and Competition-Behavioral Effects of The Fundamental Transformation

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  • Ernst Fehr
  • Oliver Hart
  • Christian Zehnder

Abstract

In this paper we study the role of incomplete ex ante contracts for ex post trade. Previous experimental evidence indicates that a contract provides a reference point for entitlements when the terms are negotiated in a competitive market. We show that this finding no longer holds when the terms are determined in a non-competitive way. Our results imply that the presence of a "fundamental transformation" (i.e., the transition from a competitive market to a bilateral relationship) is important for a contract to become a reference point. To the best of our knowledge this behavioral aspect of the fundamental transformation has not been shown before. (JEL: C91, D03, D23) (c) 2009 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2009. "Contracts, Reference Points, and Competition-Behavioral Effects of The Fundamental Transformation," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 561-572, 04-05.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:7:y:2009:i:2-3:p:561-572
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
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    8. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
    9. Wolfgang Pesendorfer & Faruk Gul, 2007. "The Canonical Space for Behavioral Types," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000345, UCLA Department of Economics.
    10. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    11. Prendergast, Canice & Stole, Lars, 2001. "The non-monetary nature of gifts," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1793-1810, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Claudia M. Landeo & Kathryn E. Spier, 2016. "Stipulated Damages as a Rent-Extraction Mechanism: Experimental Evidence," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 172(2), pages 235-273, June.
    2. 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.
    3. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2011. "How do informal agreements and renegotiation shape contractual reference points?," ECON - Working Papers 043, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. Berde, Éva, 2013. "A fundamentális transzformáció és a referenciapont szerepe a hiányos szerződések elméletében
      [The role of basic transformation and reference point in the theory of incomplete contracts]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(7), pages 865-885.
    5. repec:bla:jemstr:v:25:y:2016:i:4:p:958-989 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Schmidt, Klaus, 2017. "The 2016 Nobel Memorial Prize in Contract Theory," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 19, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    7. Erlei, Mathias & Reinhold, Christian, 2016. "Contracts as reference points—The role of reciprocity effects and signaling effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 133-145.
    8. Bartling Björn & Grieder Manuel & Zehnder Christian, 2014. "Does competition justify inequality?," ECON - Working Papers 158, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Nov 2015.
    9. Kohei Daido & Takeshi Murooka, 2016. "Team Incentives and Reference-Dependent Preferences," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(4), pages 958-989, December.
    10. Committee, Nobel Prize, 2016. "Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström: Contract Theory," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2016-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
    11. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Legros, Patrick & Zingales, Luigi (ed.), 2016. "The Impact of Incomplete Contracts on Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199826216.
    12. Björn Bartling & Manuel Grieder & Christian Zehnder, 2014. "Let the Market Decide: An Experimental Study of Competition and Fairness," CESifo Working Paper Series 4831, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. repec:eee:pubeco:v:156:y:2017:i:c:p:34-47 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Cappelen, Alexander W. & Hagen, Rune Jansen & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2012. "DO NON-ENFORCEABLE CONTRACTS MATTER? EVIDENCE FROM AN INTERNATIONAL LAB EXPERIMENT Department," Working Papers in Economics 16/12, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    15. Eduard Marinov, 2016. "The 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics," Economic Thought journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 6, pages 97-149.
    16. Fabian Herweg & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2015. "Loss Aversion and Inefficient Renegotiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 297-332.
    17. Björn Bartling & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2015. "Reference Points, Social Norms, And Fairness In Contract Renegotiations," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 98-129, February.
    18. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2015. "How Do Informal Agreements And Revision Shape Contractual Reference Points?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 1-28, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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