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Ex Ante Incentives and Ex Post Flexibility

  • Marcel Boyer
  • Jacques Robert

Our objective in this paper is to illustrate and better understand the unavoidable arbitrage between incentives and flexibility in contexts of asymmetric information and to characterize the general features of an appropriate response to this challenge. We show that procedures and institutions in organizations which reduce the capacity to implement change may be necessary to generate the optimal level of inertia. We show that more flexibility in adapting to changing conditions or new information, typically known or observed by either the agent or the principal but not both, may come at the expense of efforts exerted up front by the agent to make the organization more successful. There is a trade-off in this context between ex ante efforts and ex post flexibility of adaptation. Nous développons dans cet article un modèle principal-agent permettant de mieux cerner l'arbitrage inéluctable entre incitations et flexibilité en situation d'information asymétrique. Nous caractérisons la meilleure réponse de l'organisation face à ce défi en termes d'un niveau optimal d'inertie. Une plus grande flexibilité d'adaptation aux changements dans l'environnement ou l'information, que ces changements soient observés par le principal ou l'agent, peut réduire les efforts non-observables consentis par l'agent pour assurer le succès de l'organisation.

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File URL: http://www.cirano.qc.ca/files/publications/96s-14.pdf
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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 96s-14.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 01 Apr 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:96s-14
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  1. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 95-8, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Boyer, M. & Moreaux, A., 1989. "Uncertainty, Capacity and Flexibility: the Monopoly Case," Cahiers de recherche 8911, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  3. Robert A. Jones & Joseph M. Ostroy, 1979. "Flexibilty and Uncertainty," UCLA Economics Working Papers 163, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. BOYER, Marcel & MOREAUX, Michel, 1995. "Capacity Commitment Versus Flexibility: The Technological Choice Nexus in a Strategic Context," Cahiers de recherche 9556, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
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