This paper offers an explanation of rationally incomplete contracts, where incompleteness refers to unforeseen contingencies. Agents enter a two-sided moral hazard relationship, in which a commitment to discard parts of the joint resources may be ex-ante efficient. This happens through costly legal dispute which arises when contract terms are missing for undesirable outcomes. We show that an optimal contract needs only to specify the obligation for the more litigious party to assure a certain output level – the threshold between foreseen and unforeseen contingencies – and a linear sharing rule for the foreseen contingencies. If litigation reveals some information about the effort levels of the agents, less costly dispute is typically needed and the allocation will improve.
|Date of creation:||Jun 1998|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.|
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
|Order Information:|| Email: |
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972.
"Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
- Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Douglas Gale & Martin Hellwig, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 647-663.
- Kennan, J. & Wilson, R., 1991.
"Bargaining with Private Information,"
90-01rev, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
- Sinclair-Desgagne, Bernard, 1994. "The First-Order Approach to Multi-signal Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 459-66, March.
- Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-97, September.
- repec:cep:stitep:313 is not listed on IDEAS
- Townsend, Robert M., 1979.
"Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification,"
Journal of Economic Theory,
Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
- Robert M. Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Yeon-Koo Che & Tai-Yeong Chung, 1999.
"Contract Damages and Cooperative Investments,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(1), pages 84-105, Spring.
- Rogerson, William P, 1985. "The First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1357-67, November.
- Patrick Legros & Hitoshi Matsushima, 1991.
"Efficiency in partnerships,"
ULB Institutional Repository
2013/7044, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- Urs Schweizer, 1989. "Litigation and Settlement under Two-Sided Incomplete Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 163-177.
- Sugato Bhattacharyya & Francine Lafontaine, 1995. "Double-Sided Moral Hazard and the Nature of Share Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(4), pages 761-781, Winter.
- Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 1994.
"Incomplete Written Contracts: Undescribable States of Nature,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1085-1124.
- Anderlini, L. & Felli, L., 1993. "Incomplete Written Contracts: Undescribable States of Nature," Papers 183, Cambridge - Risk, Information & Quantity Signals.
- Jewitt, Ian, 1988. "Justifying the First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1177-90, September.
- Steven Shavell, 1984. "The Design of Contracts and Remedies for Breach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(1), pages 121-148.
- Douglas W. Diamond, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1910. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.