Loss Aversion and Ex Post Inefficient Renegotiation
We propose a theory of ex post inefficient renegotiation that is based on loss aversion. When two parties write a long-term contract that has to be renegotiated after the realization of the state of the world, they take the initial contract as a reference point to which they compare gains and losses of the renegotiated transaction. We show that loss aversion makes the renegotiated outcome sticky and materially inefficient. The theory has important implications for the optimal design of long-term contracts. First, it explains why parties often abstain from writing a beneficial long-term contract or why some contracts specify transactions that are never ex post efficient. Second, it shows under what conditions parties should rely on the allocation of ownership rights to protect relationship-specific investments rather than writing a specific performance contract. Third, it shows that employment contracts can be strictly optimal even if parties are free to renegotiate.
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- Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990.
"Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
- Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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- Alvin E Roth, 2008. "Axiomatic Models of Bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002376, David K. Levine.
- Oliver Hart, 2009. "Hold-up, Asset Ownership, and Reference Points," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 267-300. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)