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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
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Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2011/26
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  1. 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.
  2. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 1989. "Maxmin Expected Utility with Non-Unique Prior," Post-Print hal-00753237, HAL.
  3. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Scholarly Articles 4554125, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Wouter Dessein, 2002. "Authority and Communication in Organizations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 811-838.
  5. Mukerji, Sujoy & Tallon, Jean-Marc, 2004. "Ambiguity aversion and the absence of wage indexation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 653-670, April.
  6. Fehr, Ernst & Hart, Oliver & Zehnder, Christian, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 3889, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Alonso, Ricardo & Matouschek, Niko, 2005. "Optimal Delegation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5289, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 1998. "Should More Risk-Averse Agents Exert More Effort," Working Papers 98-12, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  9. Ian Jewitt, 1987. "Risk Aversion and the Choice Between Risky Prospects: The Preservation of Comparative Statics Results," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(1), pages 73-85.
  10. Strzalecki, Tomasz & Werner, Jan, 2011. "Efficient Allocations under Ambiguity," Scholarly Articles 11352637, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2008. "Contracts as reference points � experimental evidence," IEW - Working Papers 393, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. Thibault Gajdos & Takashi Hayashi & Jean-Marc Tallon & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2008. "Attitude toward imprecise information," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00451982, HAL.
  13. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 1-48.
  14. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  15. Michael Raith, 2008. "Specific knowledge and performance measurement," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(4), pages 1059-1079.
  16. Kfir Eliaz & Rani Spiegler, 2005. "A Mechanism-Design Approach to Speculative Trade," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000429, UCLA Department of Economics.
  17. Sujoy Mukerji & Peter Klibanoff, 2002. "A Smooth Model of Decision,Making Under Ambiguity," Economics Series Working Papers 113, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  18. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00174553 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers, 2010. "A Model of Delegated Project Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 213-244, 01.
  20. Ricardo Alonso & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "Optimal delegation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58665, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  21. Rantakari Heikki V, 2008. "On the Role of Uncertainty in the Risk-Incentives Tradeoff," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-25, April.
  22. 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.
  23. David Ahn & Syngjoo Choi & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2008. "Estimating Ambiguity Aversion in a Portfolio Choice Experiment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001989, David K. Levine.
  24. Mukerji, Sujoy, 1998. "Ambiguity Aversion and Incompleteness of Contractual Form," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1207-31, December.
  25. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00451982 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. 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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