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Hidden Information, Bargaining Power, And Efficiency: An Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Antonio Cabrales

    (Departamento de Economía - UC3M - Universidad Carlos III de Madrid [Madrid])

  • Gary Charness

    (Department of Economics - UC San Diego - University of California [San Diego] - University of California)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon)

Abstract

We devise an experiment to explore the effect of different degrees of bargaining power on the design and the selection of contracts in a hidden-information context. In our benchmark case, each principal is matched with one agent of unknown type. In our second treatment, a principal can select one of three agents, while in a third treatment an agent may choose between the contract menus offered by two principals. We first show theoretically how different ratios of principals and agents affect outcomes and efficiency. Informational asymmetries generate inefficiency. In an environment where principals compete against each other to hire agents, these inefficiencies may disappear, but they are insensitive to the number of principals. In contrast, when agents compete to be hired, efficiency improves dramatically, and it increases in the relative number of agents because competition reduces the agents' informational monopoly power. However, this environment also generates a high inequality level and is characterized by multiple equilibria. In general, there is a fairly high degree of correspondence between the theoretical predictions and the contract menus actually chosen in each treatment. There is, however, a tendency to choose more 'generous' (and more efficient) contract menus over time. We find that competition leads to a substantially higher probability of trade, and that, overall, competition between agents generates the most efficient outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Cabrales & Gary Charness & Marie Claire Villeval, 2011. "Hidden Information, Bargaining Power, And Efficiency: An Experiment," Post-Print halshs-00614472, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00614472
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00614472
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    Keywords

    experiment; hidden information; bargaining power; competition; efficiency;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B49 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Other
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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