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A Principal-Agent Model of Sequential Testing

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.

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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1680.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1680
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Order Information: Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

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  1. Cremer, J. & Khalil, F. & Rochet, J-C., 1997. "Contracts and Productive Information Gathering," Papers 97.468, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
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  4. Andrew Atkeson, 2010. "International lending with moral hazard and risk of repudiation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 200, David K. Levine.
  5. PETER M. DeMARZO & YULIY SANNIKOV, 2006. "Optimal Security Design and Dynamic Capital Structure in a Continuous-Time Agency Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(6), pages 2681-2724, December.
  6. Dirk Bergemann & Ulrigh Hege, 2005. "The Financing of Innovation: Learning and Stopping," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(4), pages 719-752, Winter.
  7. Spear, Stephen E & Srivastava, Sanjay, 1987. "On Repeated Moral Hazard with Discounting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 599-617, October.
  8. Gromb, Denis & Martimort, David, 2007. "Collusion and the organization of delegated expertise," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 271-299, November.
  9. Bergemann, Dirk & Hege, Ulrich, 1998. "Venture capital financing, moral hazard, and learning," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(6-8), pages 703-735, August.
  10. Giuseppe Moscarini & Lones Smith, 2001. "The Optimal Level of Experimentation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1629-1644, November.
  11. Peter M. DeMarzo & Michael J. Fishman, 2007. "Optimal Long-Term Financial Contracting," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(6), pages 2079-2128, November.
  12. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
  13. Guillaume Plantin & Bruno Biais & Thomas Mariotti & Jean-Charles Rochet, 2004. "Dynamic Security Design," GSIA Working Papers 2005-E5, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  14. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  15. 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.
  16. Gromb, Denis & Martimort, David, 2004. "The Organization of Delegated Expertise," IDEI Working Papers 284, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
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