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Specific Investment, Absence of Commitment and Observability


  • Gonzalez, P.


I consider the problem of the design of an optimal self-selection contract scheme for a principal who is buying a good from an agent which has the opportunity of making a cost-reducing unobservable investment prior to the contracting stage. Because of a hold-up problem, the agent will randomizes on his investment level. This forces the principal to spend informational "rents" to achieve screening. In equilibrium, these "rents" match the investment costs and the resulting contract yields a price schedule such that the marginal revenue of the agent equals his long run marginal cost curve. Since the agent's "type" is an endogenously determined characteristic, I argue that informational "rents" should be interpreted as quasi-rents that stand as a payment factor for investment.

Suggested Citation

  • Gonzalez, P., 1999. "Specific Investment, Absence of Commitment and Observability," Papers 99-03, Laval - Recherche en Energie.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:lavaen:99-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1994. "Foreign Direct Investment and the Risk of Expropriation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(1), pages 81-108.
    2. William P. Rogerson, 1992. "Contractual Solutions to the Hold-Up Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 777-793.
    3. Choi, Yongjae & Esfahani, Hadi Salehi, 1998. "Direct foreign investment and expropriation incentives: A mitigating role for match-specific capital," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 47-59.
    4. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1990. "Moral Hazard and Renegotiation in Agency Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1279-1319, November.
    5. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, January.
    6. Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Procurement and Renegotiation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 235-259, April.
    7. Guesnerie, Roger & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "A complete solution to a class of principal-agent problems with an application to the control of a self-managed firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 329-369, December.
    8. Williamson, Oliver E, 1983. "Credible Commitments: Using Hostages to Support Exchange," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 519-540, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. AGRELL, Per & KASPERZEC, Roman, 2010. "Dynamic joint investments in supply chains under information asymmetry," CORE Discussion Papers 2010085, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).

    More about this item



    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation


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