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Learning from Failures: Optimal Contract for Experimentation and Production

Author

Listed:
  • Fahad Khalil
  • Jacques Lawarree
  • Alexander Rodivilov

Abstract

Before embarking on a project, a principal must often rely on an agent to learn about its profitability. We model this learning as a two-armed bandit problem and highlight the interaction between learning (experimentation) and production. We derive the optimal contract for both experimentation and production when the agent has private information about his efficiency in experimentation. This private information in the experimentation stage generates asymmetric information in the production stage even though there was no disagreement about the profitability of the project at the outset. The degree of asymmetric information is endogenously determined by the length of the experimentation stage. An optimal contract uses the length of experimentation, the production scale, and the timing of payments to screen the agents. Due to the presence of an optimal production decision after experimentation, we find over-experimentation to be optimal. The asymmetric information generated during experimentation makes over-production optimal. An efficient type is rewarded early since he is more likely to succeed in experimenting, while an inefficient type is rewarded at the very end of the experimentation stage. This result is robust to the introduction of ex post moral hazard.

Suggested Citation

  • Fahad Khalil & Jacques Lawarree & Alexander Rodivilov, 2018. "Learning from Failures: Optimal Contract for Experimentation and Production," CESifo Working Paper Series 7310, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7310
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wei Zhang & Long Gao & Mohammad Zolghadr & Dawei Jian & Mohsen ElHafsi, 2023. "Dynamic incentives for sustainable contract farming," Production and Operations Management, Production and Operations Management Society, vol. 32(7), pages 2049-2067, July.
    2. Xu Tan & Quan Wen, 2020. "Information acquisition and voting with heterogeneous experts," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 51(4), pages 1063-1092, December.
    3. Rodivilov, Alexander, 2021. "A note on robust procurement contracts," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 201(C).
    4. Rodivilov, Alexander, 2022. "Monitoring innovation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 297-326.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    information gathering; optimal contracts; strategic experimentation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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