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Formal Contracts, Relational Contracts, and the Holdup Problem

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  • Hideshi Itoh
  • Hodaka Morita

Abstract

We study the holdup problem in repeated transactions between a seller and a buyer such that the seller makes relation-specific investments in each period. We show that where, under spot transaction, formal contracts have no value because of the cooperative nature of investment, writing a simple fixed-price contract can be valuable under repeated transactions: There is a range of parameter values in which a higher investment can be implemented only if a formal price contract is written and combined with a relational contract. We also show that there are cases in which not writing a formal contract but entirely relying on a relational contract increases the total surplus of the buyer and the seller. The key condition is how the investment affects the renegotiation price in general, and the alternative-use value in particular.

Suggested Citation

  • Hideshi Itoh & Hodaka Morita, 2006. "Formal Contracts, Relational Contracts, and the Holdup Problem," CESifo Working Paper Series 1786, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1786
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Shingo Ishiguro, 2011. "Relationships and Growth," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 11-31, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    2. Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "The interaction between explicit and relational incentives: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 573-594.
    3. Gürtler, Oliver, 2006. "On Delegation under Relational Contracts," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 113, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    4. Nishihara, Michi & Shibata, Takashi, 2014. "Preemption, leverage, and financing constraints," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 75-89.
    5. Michael D. Ryall & Rachelle C. Sampson, 2009. "Formal Contracts in the Presence of Relational Enforcement Mechanisms: Evidence from Technology Development Projects," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(6), pages 906-925, June.
    6. James M. Malcomson, 2012. "Relational Incentive Contracts," Introductory Chapters,in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
    7. Oliver Gürtler, 2005. "On Delegation under Relational Contracts," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse32_2005, University of Bonn, Germany.
    8. Thiele, Veikko, 2007. "The Demand for Tailored Goods and the Theory of the Firm," MPRA Paper 2471, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Hueth, Brent & Ligon, Ethan & Melkonyan, Tigran A., 2008. "Interactions between Explicit and Implicit Contracting: Evidence from California Agriculture," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6068, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    10. Hihara, Katsuya, 2012. "An analysis of an airport–airline relationship under a risk sharing contract," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(5), pages 978-992.
    11. Berardi, Nicoletta & Seabright, Paul, 2010. "Joint Ventures as a Commitment Device Against Lobbies," CEPR Discussion Papers 7714, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Hideshi Itoh, 2006. "The Theories of International Outsourcing and Integration : A Theoretical Overview from the Perspective of Organizational Economics," Microeconomics Working Papers 21891, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.

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