IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Gathering Information before Signing a Contract: Experimental Evidence

  • Hoppe, Eva I
  • Schmitz, Patrick W

A central insight of agency theory is that when a principal offers a contract to a privately informed agent, the principal trades off ex post efficiency in the bad state of nature against a larger profit in the good state of nature. We report about an experiment with 508 participants designed to test whether this fundamental trade-off is actually relevant. In particular, we investigate settings with both exogenous and endogenous information structures. We find that theory is indeed a useful predictor for the relative magnitudes of the principals' offers, the agents' information gathering decisions, and the occurrence of ex post inefficiencies.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7252.

in new window

Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7252
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:

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. Cremer, J. & Khalil, F., 1991. "Gathering Information Before Signing a Contract," Working Papers 91-16, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism - Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Eric Maskin & John Riley, 1984. "Monopoly with Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 171-196, Summer.
  4. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  5. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 2002. "Testing Contract Theory : A Survey of Some Recent Work," Working Papers 2002-11, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  6. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
  7. Cremer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1998. "Strategic Information Gathering before a Contract Is Offered," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 163-200, July.
  8. Charness, Gary B & Cabrales, Antonio, 2008. "Optimal Contracts With Team Production And Hidden Information: An Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3bb3p3t3, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  9. Forsythe, Robert & Kennan, John & Sopher, Barry, 1991. "An Experimental Analysis of Strikes in Bargaining Games with One-Sided Private Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 253-78, March.
  10. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1997. "Information Management in Incentive Problems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 796-821, August.
  12. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  13. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2001. "Theories of Fairness and Reciprocity," Discussion Papers in Economics 14, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  14. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  15. Huck, Steffen, 1999. "Responder behavior in ultimatum offer games with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 183-206, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7252. 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: ()

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.