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Infrastructure Contracts: Trust and Institutional Updating


  • Dassiou, X.
  • Stern, J.


This paper discusses trust and trust perceptions in infrastructure contracts and supporting institutions. We focus on perceptions of the trustworthiness of the government purchasers of infrastructure services by the supplying companies and by the governments themselves. In particular, we allow for trust updating and trust misalignments which may give rise to "undertrusting" and "overtrusting". The core of the paper sets out a game theoretic model of contracts with dynamic adjustment of trust perceptions, which we use to explore the impact of trust misalignment both on economic efficiency (measured by expected welfare) and on investment levels. We explore flexible contracts with and without pre-payments, rigid contracts (which do not allow for post-investment renegotiation) and hybrid contracts. We then compare the efficiency of the flexible contracts to that of hybrid contracts using as a criterion the expected welfare implications of each contract. The model is used to shed light on current issues on the sustainability of private investment infrastructure contracts in developed and in developing countries, including the role of regulatory institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Dassiou, X. & Stern, J., 2008. "Infrastructure Contracts: Trust and Institutional Updating," Working Papers 08/06, Department of Economics, City University London.
  • Handle: RePEc:cty:dpaper:08/06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jean Tirole, 2009. "Cognition and Incomplete Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 265-294, March.
    2. John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 1999. "Interfirm Relationships and Informal Credit in Vietnam," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1285-1320.
    3. Luis Araujo & Emanuel Ornelas, 2005. "Trust-Based Trade," IBMEC RJ Economics Discussion Papers 2005-08, Economics Research Group, IBMEC Business School - Rio de Janeiro.
    4. Pablo T. Spiller, 2009. "An Institutional Theory of Public Contracts: Regulatory Implications," Chapters,in: Regulation, Deregulation, Reregulation, chapter 3 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Claude Ménard & Stéphane Saussier, 2000. "Contractual Choice and Performance the Case of Water Supply in France," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 92(1), pages 385-404.
    6. Littlechild Stephen, 2002. "Competitive Bidding for a Long-Term Electricity Distribution Contract," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-38, March.
    7. repec:bpj:rneart:v:1:y:2002:i:1:p:1-38 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Anderson James E & Young Leslie, 2006. "Trade and Contract Enforcement," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-36, November.
    10. Laffont,Jean-Jacques, 2005. "Regulation and Development," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521840187, March.
    11. J. Luis Guasch & Stéphane Straub, 2006. "Renegotiation Of Infrastructure Concessions: An Overview," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 77(4), pages 479-493, December.
    12. Williamson, Oliver E, 1976. "The Economics of Internal Organization: Exit and Voice in Relation to Markets and Hierarchies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 369-377, May.
    13. Paul Levine & John Stern & Francesc Trillas, 2005. "Utility price regulation and time inconsistency: comparisons with monetary policy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 447-478, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. de Brux, Julie, 2010. "The Dark and Bright Sides of Renegotiation: An Application to Transport Concession Contracts," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 77-85, June.
    2. Pollitt, Michael & Stern, Jon, 2011. "Human resource constraints for electricity regulation in developing countries: Developments since 2001," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 53-60, June.
    3. Wren-Lewis, Liam, 2014. "Utility regulation in Africa: How relevant is the British model?," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 203-205.
    4. Wren-Lewis, Liam, 2013. "Commitment in utility regulation: A model of reputation and policy applications," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 210-231.
    5. Domingues, Sérgio & Sarmento, Joaquim Miranda, 2016. "Critical renegotiation triggers of European transport concessions," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 82-91.

    More about this item


    Contracts; infrastructure; institutions; regulation; trust;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L78 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Government Policy
    • L97 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Utilities: General


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