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A Theory of Firm Decline

  • Gian Luca Clementi
  • Thomas F. Cooley
  • Sonia B. Di Giannatale

We study the problem of an investor that buys an equity stake in an entrepreneurial venture, under the assumption that the former cannot monitor the latter’s operations. The dynamics implied by the optimal incentive scheme is rich andquite different from that induced by other models of repeated moral hazard. In particular, our framework generates a rationale for firm decline. As young firms accumulate capital, the claims of both investor (outside equity) and entrepreneur (inside equity) increase. At some juncture, however, even as the latter keeps on growing, capital and firm value start declining and so does the value of outside equity. The reason is that incentive provision becomes costlier as inside equity grows. In turn, this leads to a decline in the constrained–efficient level of effort and therefore to a drop in the return to investment. In the long run, the entrepreneur gains control of all cash–flow rights and the capital stock converges to a constant value.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 661465000000000149.

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Date of creation: 03 Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:661465000000000149
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.dklevine.com/

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  1. Zhiguo He & Neng Wang & Mike Fishman & Peter DeMarzo, 2008. "Dynamic agency and the q theory of investment," 2008 Meeting Papers 1070, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Ana Fernandes & Christopher Phelan, 1999. "A recursive formulation for repeated agency with history dependence," Staff Report 259, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Gina Luca Clementi & Hugo A Hopenhayn, 2006. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 229-265, 02.
  4. Spear, Stephen E. & Wang, Cheng, 2005. "When to fire a CEO: optimal termination in dynamic contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 239-256, February.
  5. Aubhik Khan & B. Ravikumar, 1999. "Growth and risk-sharing with private information," Working Papers 99-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  6. Espino, Emilio, 2004. "On Ramsey's Conjecture: Efficient Allocations in the Neoclassical Growth Model with Private Information," Economics Series 154, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  7. Sandro Brusco & Eva Ropero, 2007. "Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics with Durable Capital," Department of Economics Working Papers 07-08, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  8. Bohacek Radim, 2005. "Capital Accumulation in Private Information Economies," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-24, December.
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