IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ces/ceswps/_3883.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Let's Talk: How Communication Affects Contract Design

Author

Listed:
  • Jordi Brandts
  • Gary Charness
  • Matthew Ellman

Abstract

We study experimentally how the ability to communicate affects the frequency and effectiveness of flexible and inflexible contracts in a bilateral trade context where sellers can adjust trade quality after observing a post-contractual cost shock and a discretionary buyer transfer. In the absence of communication, we find that rigid contracts are more frequent and lead to higher earnings for both buyer and seller. By contrast, in the presence of communication, flexible contracts are much more frequent and considerably more productive, both for buyers and sellers. Also, both buyer and seller earn considerably more from flexible with communication than rigid without communication. Our results show quite strongly that communication, a normal feature in contracting, can remove the potential cost of flexibility (disagreements caused by conflicting perceptions). We offer an explanation based on social norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness & Matthew Ellman, 2012. "Let's Talk: How Communication Affects Contract Design," CESifo Working Paper Series 3883, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3883
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp3883.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 1-48.
    3. Matthew Ellman & Paul Pezanis-Christou, 2010. "Organizational Structure, Communication, and Group Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2478-2491, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Oprea, Ryan & Charness, Gary & Friedman, Daniel, 2014. "Continuous time and communication in a public-goods experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 212-223.
    6. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2007. "Reputations, Relationships, and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 595-628, September.
    7. Eric Maskin & John Moore, 1999. "Implementation and Renegotiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 39-56.
    8. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2011. "How do informal agreements and renegotiation shape contractual reference points?," ECON - Working Papers 043, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    9. Cooper, Russell, et al, 1990. "Selection Criteria in Coordination Games: Some Experimental Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 218-233, March.
    10. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2010. "Bare promises: An experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 281-283, May.
    11. Avner Ben-Ner & Louis Putterman & Ting Ren, 2007. "Lavish Returns on Cheap Talk: Non-binding Communication in a Trust Experiment," Working Papers 2007-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    12. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
    13. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri & Henderson, Austin, 2018. "Experimental methods: Measuring effort in economics experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 74-87.
    2. Jordi Brandts & Valeska Groenert & Christina Rott, 2015. "The Impact of Advice on Women's and Men's Selection into Competition," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(5), pages 1018-1035, May.
    3. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2018. "Hidden action and outcome contractibility: An experimental test of moral hazard theory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 544-564.
    4. Bartling, Björn & Grieder, Manuel & Zehnder, Christian, 2017. "Competitive pricing reduces wasteful counterproductive behaviors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 34-47.
    5. Michel André Maréchal & Alain Cohn & Tobias Gesche, 2018. "Honesty in the Digital Age," CESifo Working Paper Series 6996, CESifo.
    6. David Frydlinger & Oliver D. Hart, 2019. "Overcoming Contractual Incompleteness: The Role of Guiding Principles," NBER Working Papers 26245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. GRANDJEAN, Gilles & MANTOVANI, Marco & MAULEON, Ana & VANNETELBOSCH, Vincent, 2014. "Whom are you talking with ? An experiment on credibility and communication structure," LIDAM Discussion Papers CORE 2014042, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    8. Gary Charness & Francesco Feri & Miguel A. Meléndez-Jiménez & Matthias Sutter, 2019. "An experimental study on the effects of communication, credibility, and clustering in network games," CESifo Working Paper Series 7659, CESifo.
    9. Du, Ninghua & Shahriar, Quazi, 2018. "Cheap-talk evaluations in contract design," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 78-87.
    10. Hatzigeorgiou, Andreas & Karpaty, Patrik & Kneller, Richard & Lodefalk, Magnus, 2016. "Do Immigrants Spur Offshoring? Firm-Level Evidence," Working Papers 2016:7, Örebro University, School of Business.
    11. Huang, Lingbo & Xiao, Erte, 2021. "Peer effects in public support for Pigouvian taxation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 192-204.
    12. Charness, Gary & Cobo-Reyes, Ramón & Jiménez, Natalia & Lacomba, Juan A. & Lagos, Francisco, 2017. "Job security and long-term investment: An experimental analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 195-214.
    13. Manuel Munoz-Herrera & Ernesto Reuben, 2019. "Business culture: The role of personal and impersonal business relationships on market efficiency," Working Papers 20190027, New York University Abu Dhabi, Department of Social Science, revised Jun 2019.
    14. Simin He & Theo Offerman & Jeroen van de Ven, 2017. "The Sources of the Communication Gap," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(9), pages 2832-2846, September.
    15. Andrey Fradkin, 2012. "Do Online Marketplaces Become More Efficient Over Time?," Working Papers 12-24, NET Institute.
    16. Kunte, Sebastian & Wollni, Meike & Keser, Claudia, 2014. "Making it personal: breach and private ordering in a contract farming experiment," GlobalFood Discussion Papers 186136, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    17. Oliver Hart, 2017. "Incomplete Contracts and Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(7), pages 1731-1752, July.
    18. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2018. "Truth Be Told An Experimental Study of Communication and Centralization," Working Papers 1046, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2011. "Can contracts solve the hold-up problem? Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 186-199, September.
    2. Schmitz, Patrick W., 2017. "Incomplete contracts, shared ownership, and investment incentives," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 153-165.
    3. Schmitz, Patrick W., 2010. "Contractual solutions to hold-up problems with quality uncertainty and unobservable investments," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(5), pages 807-816, September.
    4. Mathias Erlei & J. Philipp Siemer, 2014. "Endogenous Property Rights in a Hold-up Experiment," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 237-270, May.
    5. Björn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & David Huffman & Nick Netzer, 2021. "The complementarity between trust and contract enforcement," ECON - Working Papers 377, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Apr 2021.
    6. Mathias Erlei & Wiebke Roß, 2013. "Bounded Rationality as an Essential Component of the Holdup Problem," TUC Working Papers in Economics 0009, Abteilung für Volkswirtschaftslehre, Technische Universität Clausthal (Department of Economics, Technical University Clausthal).
    7. Faravelli, Marco & Kirchkamp, Oliver & Rainer, Helmut, 2013. "The effect of power imbalances on incentives to make non-contractible investments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 169-185.
    8. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2018. "Hidden action and outcome contractibility: An experimental test of moral hazard theory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 544-564.
    9. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2015. "How Do Informal Agreements And Revision Shape Contractual Reference Points?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 1-28, February.
    10. Hans B. Christensen & Valeri V. Nikolaev & Regina Wittenberg‐Moerman, 2016. "Accounting Information in Financial Contracting: The Incomplete Contract Theory Perspective," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 397-435, May.
    11. Björn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & David B. Huffmann & Nick Netzer & David B. Huffman, 2021. "The Complementary Nature of Trust and Contract Enforcement," CESifo Working Paper Series 8826, CESifo.
    12. Judd B. Kessler & Stephen Leider, 2012. "Norms and Contracting," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(1), pages 62-77, January.
    13. Oliver Hart, 2013. "Noncontractible Investments and Reference Points," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-20, August.
    14. Schmitz, Patrick W., 2021. "On the optimality of outsourcing when vertical integration can mitigate information asymmetries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 202(C).
    15. Barmettler, Franziska & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2012. "Big experimenter is watching you! Anonymity and prosocial behavior in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 17-34.
    16. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.
    17. Christian Koch, 2021. "Can reference points explain wage rigidity? Experimental evidence," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 55(1), pages 1-17, December.
    18. Hernán Bejarano & Brice Corgnet & Joaquín Gómez-Miñambres, 2019. "Labor Contracts, Gift-Exchange and Reference Wages: Your Gift Need Not Be Mine!," Working Papers 19-26, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    19. Luis Garicano & Luis Rayo, 2016. "Why Organizations Fail: Models and Cases," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(1), pages 137-192, March.
    20. Halonen-Akatwijuka, Maija & Pafilis, Evagelos, 2020. "Common ownership of public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 555-578.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    contract design; communication; experiments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3883. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/cesifde.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Klaus Wohlrabe (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/cesifde.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.