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Optimal contracting and the organization of knowledge

Listed author(s):
  • Fuchs, William
  • Garicano, Luis
  • Rayo, Luis

We study contractual arrangements that support an efficient use of time in a knowledge-intensive economy in which agents endogenously specialize in either production or consulting. The resulting market for advice is plagued by informational problems, since both the difficulty of the questions posed to consultants and the knowledge of those consultants are hard to assess. We show that spot contracting is not efficient since lemons (in this case, self-employed producers with intermediate knowledge) cannot be appropriately excluded from the market. However, an ex-ante, firm-like contractual arrangement uniquely delivers the first best. This arrangement involves hierarchies in which consultants are full residual claimants of output and compensate producers via incentive contracts. This simple characterization of the optimal ex-ante arrangement suggests a rationale for the organization of firms and the structure of compensation in knowledge-intensive sectors. Our findings correspond empirically to observed arrangements inside professional service firms and between venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/60531/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 60531.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2014
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:60531
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  1. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-795, December.
  2. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 2004. "Characteristics, Contracts, and Actions: Evidence from Venture Capitalist Analyses," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(5), pages 2177-2210, October.
  3. Wolfgang Pesendorfer & Asher Wolinsky, 2003. "Second Opinions and Price Competition: Inefficiency in the Market for Expert Advice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 417-437.
  4. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 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.
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  8. Mukesh Eswaran & Ashok Kotwal, 1984. "The Moral Hazard of Budget-Breaking," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(4), pages 578-581, Winter.
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  13. Sun, Yeneng, 2006. "The exact law of large numbers via Fubini extension and characterization of insurable risks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 31-69, January.
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  15. Lu, Hu & Robert, Jacques, 2001. "Optimal Trading Mechanisms with Ex Ante Unidentified Traders," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 50-80, March.
  16. Eric Maskin & John Riley, 1984. "Monopoly with Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 171-196, Summer.
  17. William Fuchs & Luis Garicano, 2010. "Matching Problems with Expertise in Firms and Markets," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 354-364, 04-05.
  18. Daron Acemoglu & Mohamed Mostagir & Asuman Ozdaglar, 2014. "Managing Innovation in a Crowd," NBER Working Papers 19852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2012. "Competition through Commissions and Kickbacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 780-809, April.
  20. Taylor, Curtis R, 1995. "The Economics of Breakdowns, Checkups, and Cures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 53-74, February.
  21. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
  22. Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
  23. Luis Garicano & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2006. "Organization and Inequality in a Knowledge Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1383-1435.
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