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Complexity, Contract and the Employment Relationship


  • W. Bentley MacLeod

    (Boston College)


This paper introduces a model of contract incompleteness and bounded rationality based on the multi-tasking model of Holmstrom and Milgrom (1991). It is shown that the trade-off between the use of an employment relationship versus and explicit state contingent contract depends on number of tasks or complexity of the services provided by the individual.

Suggested Citation

  • W. Bentley MacLeod, 1997. "Complexity, Contract and the Employment Relationship," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 342., Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:342

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    2. Dye, Ronald A, 1985. "Costly Contract Contingencies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(1), pages 233-250, February.
    3. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    4. 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.
    5. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
    6. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    7. 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.
    8. Jacques Cremer, 1986. "Cooperation in Ongoing Organizations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 33-49.
    9. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1998. "Motivation and Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 388-411, June.
    2. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 1998. "Costly Bargaining and Renegotiation - (Now published in Econometrica, 69(4) (March 2001), pp. 377-411.)," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 361, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    3. Chongen Bai & Zhigang Tao, 2000. "Franchising as a Nexus of Incentive Devices for Production Involving Brand Name," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0964, Econometric Society.

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