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Flexible contracts

  • Piero Gottardi
  • Jean Marc Tallon
  • Paolo Ghirardato

This paper studies the costs and benefits of delegating decisions to superiorly informed agents relative to the use of rigid, non discretionary contracts. The main focus of the paper lies in the analysis of the costs of delegation, primarily agency costs, versus their benefits, primarily the flexibility of the action choice. We first determine and characterize the properties of the optimal flexible contract. We then show that the higher the agent’s degree of risk aversion, the higher is the agency costs of delegation and the less profitable a flexible contract relative to a rigid one. When the parties to not have sharp probability beliefs, the agent’s degree of imprecision aversion introduces another agency cost, which again reduces the relative profitability of flexible contracts.

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Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2011/26.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2011/26
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  1. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Normal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 94-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Tomasz Strzalecki & Jan Werner, . "Efficient Allocations under Ambiguity," Working Paper 8325, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  3. Jullien, B. & Salanie, B. & Salanie, F., 1998. "Should More Risk-Averse Agents Exert More Effort?," Papers 98.489, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
  4. Thibault Gajdos & Takashi Hayashi & Jean-Marc Tallon & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2006. "Attitude toward imprecise information," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques v06081, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
  5. Ghirardato, Paolo & Maccheroni, Fabio & Marinacci, Massimo, 2004. "Differentiating ambiguity and ambiguity attitude," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 133-173, October.
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  7. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers, 2010. "A Model of Delegated Project Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 213-244, 01.
  8. Antoine Billot & Alain Chateauneuf & Itzhak Gilboa & Jean-Marc Tallon, 2000. "Sharing beliefs: between agreeing and disagreeing," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00174553, HAL.
  9. Kfir Eliaz & Rani Spiegler, 2005. "A Mechanism-Design Approach to Speculative Trade," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000429, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. David Schmeidler, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7662, David K. Levine.
  11. Jewitt, Ian, 1987. "Risk Aversion and the Choice between Risky Prospects: The Preservation of Comparative Statics Results," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 73-85, January.
  12. Dessein, Wouter, 2002. "Authority and Communication in Organizations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 811-38, October.
  13. Mukerji, S., 1997. "Ambiguity aversion and incompleteness of contractual form," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9715, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  14. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2006. "Contracts as Reference Points," NBER Working Papers 12706, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Peter Klibanoff & Massimo Marinacci & Sujoy Mukerji, 2002. "A smooth model of decision making under ambiguity," ICER Working Papers - Applied Mathematics Series 11-2003, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research, revised Apr 2003.
  16. Canice Prendergast, 2002. "The Tenuous Trade-off between Risk and Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1071-1102, October.
  17. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
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