IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Delegation and Information Revelation


  • Axel Gautier

    (IRES and UCL)

  • Dimitri Paolini

    (IRES and UCL)


This paper addresses the question of delegation in a principal-agent setting with asymmetric information. If the person who has the power to act, the principal, doesn't have the necessary information to make the best possible decision, she can address herself to someone, the agent, who has this information. Such delegation of authority has its drawbacks given that the agent may not implement the principal's ideal decision. Delegation is costly for the principal. This cost is called the loss of control. But delegation has also its benefits. We show that delegation is useful to reduce the initial asymmetry of information between the principal and the agent. The benefits of delegation are linked to the information transmitted by the agent to the principal. To show this, we model an organization composed of one principal and one agent. The organization should take a sequence of decisions that are affected by a common environemental parameter. We assume that there is an initial asymmetry of information between the principal and the subordinate agent: the agent knows the state of the world while the principal has only some prior about its distribution. Moreover, we assume that the principal cannot use revelation techniques la Baron Myerson to elicit agent's superior information. In contrast, we adopt an incomplete contract framework and posit that the decision and the state of the world parameter cannot be contracted for. Therefore, the remaining contracting variable is the allocation of decision rights. With these simple contracts, we study how the agent's decision can signal his information to the principal. When the agent is in charge of a decision, his decision signals his information to the principal. The trade off between information transmitted through decisions under delegation and the associated loss of control is the heart of our analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Axel Gautier & Dimitri Paolini, 2000. "Delegation and Information Revelation," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1292, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1292

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hart, Oliver D & Moore, John, 1988. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 755-785, July.
    2. 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.
    3. Martimort, David, 1997. " A Theory of Bureaucratization Based on Reciprocity and Collusive Behavior," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(4), pages 555-579, December.
    4. Leonardo Felli, 1996. "Preventing Collusion Through Discretion," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series /1996/303, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    5. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    6. Armstrong, M., 1994. "Delegation and discretion," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9421, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    7. repec:cep:stitep:303 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Xavier Freixas & Roger Guesnerie & Jean Tirole, 1985. "Planning under Incomplete Information and the Ratchet Effect," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(2), pages 173-191.
    9. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-329, May.
    10. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1998. "Capital budgeting and delegation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 259-289, December.
    11. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221.
    12. Myerson, Roger B., 1982. "Optimal coordination mechanisms in generalized principal-agent problems," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 67-81, June.
    13. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
    14. Andreas Roider, 2006. "Delegation of Authority as an Optimal (In)Complete Contract," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 162(3), pages 391-411, September.
    15. Riley, John G, 1979. "Informational Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 331-359, March.
    16. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-1175, September.
    17. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
    18. Legros Patrick, 1993. "Information Revelation in Repeated Delegation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 98-117, January.
    19. Melumad, Nahum & Mookherjee, Dilip & Reichelstein, Stefan, 1992. "A theory of responsibility centers," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 445-484, December.
    20. Sappington, David, 1983. "Limited liability contracts between principal and agent," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-21, February.
    21. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Tigran Melkonyan, 2014. "Decentralization, Incentive Contracts and the Effect of Distortions in Performance Measures," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 82(6), pages 631-652, December.
    2. Axel Gautier & Dimitri Paolini, 2009. "Delegation, externalities and organizational design," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(4), pages 2683-2692.
    3. Alonso, Ricardo, 2009. "Strategic control and strategic communication," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58682, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1292. 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: (Christopher F. Baum) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.