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Relational Incentive Contracts With Persistent Private Information

Listed author(s):
  • James M. Malcomson

This paper investigates relational incentive contracts with continuous, privately observed agent types that are persistent over time. With fixed agent types, full separation is not possible when continuation equilibrium payoffs following revelation are on the Pareto frontier of attainable payoffs. This result is related to the ratchet effect in that: (1) a type imitating a less productive type receives an information rent, and (2) with full separation, one imitating a more productive type receives the same future payoff as that more productive type. However, the reason for (2) is fundamentally different than with the ratchet effect. It arises from the dynamic enforcement requirement in relational contracts, not from the principal having all the bargaining power, and applies whatever the distribution between principal and agent of the future gains from the relationship (i.e., whatever the point on the Pareto frontier). This result extends to sufficiently persistent types under certain conditions.

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Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 84 (2016)
Issue (Month): (January)
Pages: 317-346

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Handle: RePEc:wly:emetrp:v:84:y:2016:i::p:317-346
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  1. Goldlücke, Susanne & Kranz, Sebastian, 2013. "Renegotiation-proof relational contracts," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 157-178.
  2. Watson, Joel, 2002. "Starting Small and Commitment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 176-199, January.
  3. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
  4. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-480, March.
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  6. Abreu, Dilip, 1988. "On the Theory of Infinitely Repeated Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 383-396, March.
  7. Ching-jen Sun, 2011. "A note on the dynamics of incentive contracts," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 40(3), pages 645-653, August.
  8. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1988. "Reputation and Hierarchy in Dynamic Models of Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 832-854, August.
  9. Bentley W. MacLeod, 2003. "Optimal Contracting with Subjective Evaluation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 216-240, March.
  10. Asanuma, Banri, 1989. "Manufacturer-supplier relationships in Japan and the concept of relation-specific skill," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, March.
  11. Marco Battaglini, 2005. "Long-Term Contracting with Markovian Consumers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 637-658, June.
  12. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell, 2008. "Collusion With Persistent Cost Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 493-540, 05.
  13. John Kennan, 2001. "Repeated Bargaining with Persistent Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(4), pages 719-755.
  14. Huanxing Yang, 2013. "Nonstationary Relational Contracts With Adverse Selection," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54(2), pages 525-547, 05.
  15. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-1175, September.
  16. Mailath, George J. & Samuelson, Larry, 2006. "Repeated Games and Reputations: Long-Run Relationships," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195300796.
  17. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
  18. Watson, Joel, 1999. "Starting Small and Renegotiation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 52-90, March.
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