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Long-term Relationships: Static Gains and Dynamic Inefficiencies

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  • Hémous, David
  • Olsen, Morten

Abstract

Do contractual frictions matter when firms are engaged in repeated interactions? This paper argues that long-term relationships, which allow firms to (partly) overcome the static costs associated with low contractibility, will under certain circumstances create dynamic inefficiencies. We consider the repeated interaction between final good producers and intermediate input suppliers, where the provision of the intermediate input is noncontractible. A producer/supplier pair can be a good match or a bad match, with bad matches featuring lower productivity. This allows us to build a cooperative equilibrium where producers can switch suppliers and start cooperation immediately with new suppliers. Every period, one supplier has the opportunity to innovate, and in the baseline model, innovations are imitated after one period. We show that (i) innovations need to be larger to break up existing relationships in the cooperative equilibrium than in either a set-up where the input is contractible or when we preclude cooperation in long-term relationships, (ii) the rate of innovation in the cooperative equilibrium is lower than in the contractible case, and may even be lower than in the non-cooperative equilibrium and (iii) cooperation may reduce welfare. Next, we assume that the frontier technology diffuses slowly to suppliers (instead of after one period). In that case, for sufficiently slow diffusion, the innovation rate in the cooperative equilibrium may be higher than even in the contractible case. Finally, we show that cooperation may also increase relationship specific innovations.

Suggested Citation

  • Hémous, David & Olsen, Morten, 2015. "Long-term Relationships: Static Gains and Dynamic Inefficiencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 10490, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10490
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Johannes Boehm, 2014. "The Impact of Contract Enforcement Costs on Outsourcing and Aggregate Productivity," 2014 Meeting Papers 340, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Kevin Cowan & Alejandro Neut, 2007. "Intermediate Goods, Institutions and Output per Worker," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 420, Central Bank of Chile.
    3. Klein, Benjamin, 1996. "Why Hold-Ups Occur: The Self-Enforcing Range of Contractual Relationships," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(3), pages 444-463, July.
    4. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
    5. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-548, June.
    6. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-480, March.
    7. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1987. "Contracts as a Barrier to Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 388-401, June.
    8. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2006. "Reputations, Relationships and the Enforcement of Incomplete Contracts," CESifo Working Paper Series 1730, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Kranton, Rachel E, 1996. "Reciprocal Exchange: A Self-Sustaining System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 830-851, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2014. "Growth, Selection and Appropriate Contracts," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(1), pages 21-38, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    contractibility; innovation; relational contract; repeated game;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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