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Relational Contracts and Property Rights


  • Blonski, Matthias
  • Spagnolo, Giancarlo


We propose a general framework for analyzing and comparing ownership structures with respect to creating incentives for co-operative behavior (e.g. efficient investment) in long-run relationships. We generalize models by Garvey (1995), Halonen (2002), and Baker, Gibbons and Murphy (2002) and compare their results in the light of our theory, going in depth into the issue of renegotiation of ownership and strategies. We show that when agents are not restricted in their strategy choice, the short–term efficient ownership structure identified by Hart and Moore (1990) is not relational efficient — i.e. does not maximize the set of discount factors under which efficient investment can be supported in equilibrium of the repeated game. Moreover, the relational efficient ownership structure is independent of what can be renegotiated: ownership, strategies, both or none.

Suggested Citation

  • Blonski, Matthias & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2002. "Relational Contracts and Property Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 3460, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3460

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Elisabetta Iossa & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2008. "Contracts as Threats: on a Rationale For Rewarding A while Hoping For B," EIEF Working Papers Series 1022, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Dec 2010.
    2. Sebastian Kranz, 2013. "Relational Contracting, Repeated Negotiations, and Hold-Up," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000676, David K. Levine.
    3. Cremer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad, 1992. "Gathering Information before Signing a Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 566-578, June.
    4. Kranz, Sebastian & Ohlendorf, Susanne, 2009. "Renegotiation-Proof Relational Contracts with Side Payments," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 259, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    5. Christian A. Ruzzier, 2009. "Asset Specificity and Vertical Integration: Williamson’s Hypothesis Reconsidered," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-119, Harvard Business School.
    6. Thomas F. Hellmann & Veikko Thiele, 2012. "A Theory of the Firm based on Partner Displacement," NBER Working Papers 18495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Giovannetti, E. & Neuhoff, K. & Spagnolo, G., 2005. "Agglomeration in Internet Co-operation Peering Agreements," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0505, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item


    implicit contracts; incomplete contracts; non-contractual relations; ownership structures; supply relations; theory of the firm; vertical integration;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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