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Contractual Remedies to the Holdup Problem: A Dynamic Perspective

  • Yeon-Koo Che
  • Jozsef Sakovics

    ()

An important theme of modern contract theory is the role contracts play to protect parties from the risk of holdup and thereby encouraging their relationship specific investments. While this perspective has generated valuable insights about various contracts, the underyling models abstract from realistic investment dynamics. We reexamine the role of contracts in a dynamic model that endogenizes the timing of investments and trade. The resulting interaction between bargaining and investment significantly alters the insights learned from static models. We show that contracts that would exacerbate the parties’ vulnerability to holdup — rather than those protecting them from the risk of holdup — can be desirable. For this reason, separate ownership of complementary assets can be optimal, an exclusivity agreement can protect the investments of its recipient, trade contracts can be beneficial with a purely cooperative investment, and the property rule can offer a better legal protection against externalities loss than the liability rule, much in contrast to the existing results (based on static models).

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Paper provided by Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh in its series ESE Discussion Papers with number 100.

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Length: 40
Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:100
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  1. Yeon-Koo Che & József Sákovics, 2004. "A Dynamic Theory of Holdup," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(4), pages 1063-1103, 07.
  2. Maija Halonen, 2002. "Reputation And The Allocation Of Ownership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 539-558, July.
  3. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1999. "Foundations of Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 115-38, January.
  4. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-61, October.
  5. Mathias Dewatripont & Philippe Aghion & Patrick Rey, 1994. "Renegotiation design with unverifiable information," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9591, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. Aaron S. Edlin & Stefan Reichelstein, 1995. "Holdups, Standard Breach Remedies, and Optimal Investment," NBER Working Papers 5007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Macleod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1991. "Investments, Hold Up And The Reform Of Market Contracts," Cahiers de recherche 9114, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  8. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2002. "Relational Contracts And The Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 39-84, February.
  10. Chiu, Y Stephen, 1998. "Noncooperative Bargaining, Hostages, and Optimal Asset Ownership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 882-901, September.
  11. Nöldeke, Georg & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1995. "Option contracts and renegotiation: A solution to the Hold-Up Problem," Munich Reprints in Economics 19329, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2001. "Bringing the Market inside the Firm?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 212-218, May.
  13. David De Meza & Ben Lockwood, 1998. "Does Asset Ownership Always Motivate Managers? Outside Options And The Property Rights Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386, May.
  14. Ilya Segal & Michael D. Whinston, 2000. "Exclusive Contracts and Protection of Investments," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 603-633, Winter.
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