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Hierarchic contracting


  • Rafael Hortala-Vallve
  • Miguel Sanchez


We analyze the contracting structure in a moral hazard setting with several agents whereoutput is produced jointly and is the only contractible variable. Since the salary of each agentis a function of all agents efforts, a positive externality arises between them. This externalityis not internalised by a centralised structure where the principal contracts directly with eachagent. Instead, we find that a hierarchic structure (i.e. the delegation of "contracting rights"from the principal to the agents) internalises the externality by making agents "residualclaimants". Consequently, the second best situation can be improved upon just by changingthe contracting structure of the principal-agents relationship. The analysis is relevant to theliterature on decentralisation, outsourcing, subcontracting and intra-firm organization.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael Hortala-Vallve & Miguel Sanchez, 2005. "Hierarchic contracting," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 73, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stidar:73

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Itoh Hideshi, 1993. "Coalitions, Incentives, and Risk Sharing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 410-427, August.
    2. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    3. Jelovac, Izabela & Macho-Stadler, Ines, 2002. "Comparing organizational structures in health services," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 501-522, December.
    4. Macho-Stadler, Ines & Perez-Castrillo, J David, 1998. "Centralized and Decentralized Contracts in a Moral Hazard Environment," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 489-510, December.
    5. Itoh, Hideshi, 1994. "Job design, delegation and cooperation: A principal-agent analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 691-700, April.
    6. Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-636, May.
    7. Choe, Chongwoo, 2002. "Delegated Contracting and Corporate Hierarchies," CEI Working Paper Series 2002-7, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    8. Baliga, Sandeep & Sjostrom, Tomas, 1998. "Decentralization and Collusion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 196-232, December.
    9. Nahum D. Melumad & Dilip Mookherjee & Stefan Reichelstein, 1995. "Hierarchical Decentralization of Incentive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(4), pages 654-672, Winter.
    10. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    11. Prendergast, Canice J, 1995. "A Theory of Responsibility in Organizations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 387-400, July.
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    More about this item


    Principal-multi-agent relationships; moral hazard; team production; decentralisation; hierarchies; contract design;

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation


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