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Flexible contracts

  • Piero Gottardi
  • Jean-Marc Tallon
  • Paolo Ghirardato

This paper studies the costs and bene?ts of delegating decisions to superiorly informed agents, that is of adopting ?exible contracts, relative to the use of rigid, non discretionary contracts. The main focus of the paper lies in the analysis of the costs of delegation, primarily agency costs, versus their bene?ts, primarily the ?exibility of the action choice in two di?erent environments, one with risk and one with ambiguity. We ?rst determine and characterize the properties of the optimal ?exible contract. We then show that the higher the agent’s degree of risk aversion, the higher is the agency costs of delegation and the less pro?table a ?exible contract relative to a rigid one. When the parties have imprecise probabilistic beliefs, the agent’s degree of imprecision aversion introduces another agency cost, which again reduces the relative pro?tability of ?exible contracts.

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Paper provided by Collegio Carlo Alberto in its series Carlo Alberto Notebooks with number 128.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision: 2015
Handle: RePEc:cca:wpaper:128
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  1. Itzhak Gilboa & Antoine Billot & Alain Chateauneuf & Jean-Marc Tallon, 2000. "Sharing Beliefs: between Agreeing and Disagreeing," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00753122, HAL.
  2. Peter Klibanoff & Massimo Marinacci & Sujoy Mukerji, 2005. "A Smooth Model of Decision Making under Ambiguity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1849-1892, November.
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  6. Mukerji, S., 1997. "Ambiguity aversion and incompleteness of contractual form," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9715, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  7. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2005. "A Mechanism-Design Approach to Speculative Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 5434, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Ricardo Alonso & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "Optimal delegation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58665, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2011. "Contracts as Reference Points--Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 493-525, April.
  10. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
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  13. Rantakari Heikki V, 2008. "On the Role of Uncertainty in the Risk-Incentives Tradeoff," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-25, April.
  14. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers, 2010. "A Model of Delegated Project Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 213-244, 01.
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  19. Jullien, B. & Salanie, B. & Salanie, F., 1998. "Should More Risk-Averse Agents Exert More Effort?," Papers 98.489, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
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  25. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2008. "Contracts as reference points � experimental evidence," IEW - Working Papers 393, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  26. Ian Jewitt, 1987. "Risk Aversion and the Choice Between Risky Prospects: The Preservation of Comparative Statics Results," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(1), pages 73-85.
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