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Incentives for Experimenting Agents

We examine a repeated interaction between an agent, who undertakes experiments, and a principal who provides the requisite funding for these experiments. The repeated interaction gives rise to a dynamic agency cost — the more lucrative is the agent’s stream of future rents following a failure, the more costly are current incentives for the agent, giving the principal an incentive to reduce the continuation value of the project. We characterize the set of recursive Markov equilibria. We show that there are non-Markov equilibria that make the principal better off than the recursive Markov equilibrium, and that may make both players better off. Efficient equilibria front-load the agent’s effort, inducing as much experimentation as possible over an initial period, until making a switch to the worst possible continuation equilibrium. The initial phase concentrates the agent’s effort near the beginning of the project, where it is most valuable, while the eventual switch to the worst continuation equilibrium attenuates the dynamic agency cost.

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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d17a/d1726-rrr.pdf
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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1726RRR.

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Length: 141 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision: Jun 2013
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1726rrr
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Web page: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/

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  1. Asher Blass & Oved Yosha, 2003. "Financing R&D in mature companies: An empirical analysis," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(5), pages 425-447.
  2. Kaplan, Steven & Strömberg, Per Johan, 2000. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets The Real World: An Empirical Analysis Of Venture Capital Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 2421, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. HOLMSTROM, Bengt, . "Moral hazard and observability," CORE Discussion Papers RP -379, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Paul Gompers & Josh Lerner, 2001. "The Venture Capital Revolution," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 145-168, Spring.
  5. Patrick Bolton & Christopher Harris, 1999. "Strategic Experimentation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 349-374, March.
  6. Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Bolton, 2005. "Contract theory," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9543, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Carine Peeters & Bruno Van Pottelsberghe, 2003. "Measuring innovation competencies and performances: a survey of large firms in Belgium," Working Papers CEB 04-005.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Str�mberg, 2003. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets the Real World: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Capital Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 281-315.
  9. Boyan Jovanovic & Balàzs Szentes, 2007. "On the Return to Venture Capital," NBER Working Papers 12874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Denis, Diane K. & Shome, Dilip K., 2005. "An empirical investigation of corporate asset downsizing," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 427-448, June.
  11. Keller, Godfrey & Rady, Sven, 2009. "Strategic Experimentation with Poisson Bandits," Discussion Papers in Economics 10575, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "A two-armed bandit theory of market pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 185-202, October.
  13. Bruno Biais & Thomas Mariotti & Guillaume Plantin & Jean-Charles Rochet, 2007. "Dynamic Security Design: Convergence to Continuous Time and Asset Pricing Implications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 345-390.
  14. Gustavo Manso, 2011. "Motivating Innovation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(5), pages 1823-1860, October.
  15. Dirk Bergemann & Ulrich Hege & Liang Peng, 2008. "Venture Capital and Sequential Investments," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1682, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Nov 2008.
  16. Bergin, James & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1993. "Continuous Time Repeated Games," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(1), pages 21-37, February.
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