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A Principal-Agent Model of Sequential Testing

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the optimal provision of incentives in a sequential testing context. In every period the agent can acquire costly information that is relevant to the principal's decision. Neither the agent's effort nor the realizations of his signals are observable. First, we assume that the principal and the agent are symmetrically informed at the time of contracting. We construct the optimal mechanism and show that the agent is indifferent in every period between performing the test and sending an uninformative message which continues the relationship. Furthermore, in the first period the agent is indifferent between carrying out his task and sending an uninformative message which ends the relationship immediately. We then characterize the optimal mechanisms when the agent has superior information at the outset of the relationship. The principal prefers to offer different contracts if and only if the agent types are sufficiently diverse. Finally, all agent types benefit from their initial private information.

Suggested Citation

  • Dino Gerardi & Lucas Maestri, 2008. "A Principal-Agent Model of Sequential Testing," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1680, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1680
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    Cited by:

    1. Johannes Hörner & Larry Samuelson, 2013. "Incentives for experimenting agents," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 44(4), pages 632-663, December.
    2. repec:aea:aejmic:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:148-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Nicolas Klein & Tymofiy Mylovanov, 2011. "Should the Flatterers be Avoided?," 2011 Meeting Papers 1273, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Gomes, Renato & Gottlieb, Daniel & Maestri, Lucas, 2016. "Experimentation and project selection: Screening and learning," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 145-169.
    5. Chia-Hui Chen & Junichiro Ishida, 2015. "A Tenure-Clock Problem," ISER Discussion Paper 0919, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    6. Chia-Hui Chen & Junichiro Ishida, 2017. "Dynamic Performance Evaluation with Deadlines: The Role of Commitment," ISER Discussion Paper 1015, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    7. Catherine Bobtcheff & Raphaël Levy, 2017. "More Haste, Less Speed? Signaling through Investment Timing," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 148-186, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dynamic mechanism design; Information acquisition; Sequential testing;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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