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Contracting for an Innovation under Bilateral Asymmetric Information

  • Martimort, David
  • Poudou, Jean-Christophe
  • Sand-Zantman, Wilfried

This article analyzes the optimal contract design between an inventor and a developer. The inventor is privately informed on the value of his idea. The developer must exert some non-verifiable effort to improve the probability of success of this innovation but may also choose to opt out of the relationship upon learning the quality of the idea. While first-best efficiency requires that all marginal returns on innovation be left to the developer, second-best efficiency taking into account this bilateral asymmetric information leads to distort downwards the developer’s incentives to prevent innovators from overstating the value of their ideas. There exists a trade-off between inviting inventor to reveal their ideas and inducing both effort and participation from the developer. The extent of this trade-off depends on the regime of property rights on ideas, i.e., on how easy to steal ideas. Since decreasing the marginal share of developers makes it more difficult to have them participating to the contract, countervailing incentives might sometimes appear. Taking into account those various effects leads to reduce the responsiveness of the contract to the exact value of the idea and might force to give up additional rents to the developer. Some extensions of our framework, including the cases of limited commitment, partial disclosure and double moral hazard, are studied to show the robustness and limits of our previous findings.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 448.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Publication status: Published in The Journal of Industrial Economics, vol.�58, n°2, mai 2010, p.�324-348.
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:1156
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  1. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1992. "The Principal-Agent Relationship with an Informed Principal, II: Common Values," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 1-42, January.
  2. Lewis, Tracy R. & Sappington, David E. M., 1989. "Countervailing incentives in agency problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 294-313, December.
  3. Nancy T. Gallini & Brian D. Wright, 1990. "Technology Transfer under Asymmetric Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 147-160, Spring.
  4. Maggi G. & Rodriguez-Clare A., 1995. "On Countervailing Incentives," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 238-263, June.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Opening the black box of innovation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 701-710, April.
  6. Inderst, Roman, 2001. "Incentive schemes as a signaling device," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 455-465, April.
  7. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "The Management of Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1185-1209, November.
  8. Mailath, George J, 1987. "Incentive Compatibility in Signaling Games with a Continuum of Types," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1349-65, November.
  9. Aghion, P. & Tirole, J., 1993. "On the Management of Innovation," Working papers 93-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  10. Beaudry, Paul, 1994. "Why an Informed Principal May Leave Rents to an Agent," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(4), pages 821-32, November.
  11. Anton, James J & Yao, Dennis A, 2002. "The Sale of Ideas: Strategic Disclosure, Property Rights, and Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(3), pages 513-31, July.
  12. James J. Anton & Dennis A. Yao, 2003. "Patents, Invalidity, and the Strategic Transmission of Enabling Information," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 151-178, 06.
  13. Hellmann, Thomas F & Perotti, Enrico C, 2006. "The Circulation of Ideas: Firms Versus Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 5469, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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