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Contracts as Threats: on a Rationale For Rewarding A while Hoping For B

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  • Elisabetta Iossa

    (Brunel University; University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', CMPO, CEDI, EIEF)

  • Giancarlo Spagnolo

    (University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', SITE, EIEF, and CEPR)

Abstract

Contracts often reward inefficient tasks and are not enforced ex post. We provide an explanation based on the relationship between explicit contracts and implicit agreements. We show that signing but then ignoring contractual clauses requiring costly, inefficient, verifiable tasks (A) may facilitate relational contracting on efficient noncontractible tasks (B) by anticipating and strengthening punishments following defections. With adverse selection, it is optimal to choose tasks A analogous to B in terms of required skills. We also explain why stipulated damages must be moderate in size. These results apply independently of whether B is a 'productive' task or a 'bribe'.

Suggested Citation

  • Elisabetta Iossa & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2008. "Contracts as Threats: on a Rationale For Rewarding A while Hoping For B," EIEF Working Papers Series 1022, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Dec 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:eie:wpaper:1022
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    Cited by:

    1. Joel Watson & David A. Miller & Trond E. Olsen, 2020. "Relational Contracting, Negotiation, and External Enforcement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(7), pages 2153-2197, July.
    2. David Martimort & Aggey Semenov & Lars Stole, 2017. "A Theory of Contracts with Limited Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 816-852.
    3. Butler, Jeffrey V. & Carbone, Enrica & Conzo, Pierluigi & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2020. "Past performance and entry in procurement: An experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 179-195.
    4. Chiara D'Alpaos & Michele Moretto & Paola Valbonesi & Sergio Vergalli, 2009. "It is never too late: Optimal penalty for investment delay in public procurement contracts," Working Papers 0907, University of Brescia, Department of Economics.
    5. Decio Coviello & Luigi Moretti & Giancarlo Spagnolo & Paola Valbonesi, 2018. "Court Efficiency and Procurement Performance," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 120(3), pages 826-858, July.
    6. Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2012. "Reputation, competition, and entry in procurement," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 291-296.
    7. James M. Malcomson, 2012. "Relational Incentive Contracts," Introductory Chapters, in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.),The Handbook of Organizational Economics, Princeton University Press.
    8. Kopányi-Peuker, Anita & Offerman, Theo & Sloof, Randolph, 2017. "Fostering cooperation through the enhancement of own vulnerability," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 273-290.
    9. Giuseppe Gori & Patrizia Lattarulo & Marco Mariani, 2014. "The effect of Regional Law 35/2011 on strategic public works," Studi e approfondimenti 521, Istituto Regionale per la Programmazione Economica della Toscana.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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