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Incentives in Common Agency




This paper considers situations where an agent must allocate his nonobservable effort among several tasks and where several principals hold diverging viewpoints on what the best allocation should be. Economic theory currently sees each of these features as major obstacles to raising the strength of an agent’s incentives. This paper proposes a simple scheme - based on contingent monitoring - that can nevertheless mitigate both of these obstacles simultaneously. Under this scheme, if the agent’s absolute risk aversion decreases fast enough with respect to wealth, then the principals would coordinate their respective incentive provision so that the agent would also see his various tasks as complementary (instead of substitute) income-enhancing activities. Furthermore, coordination could be achieved in a somewhat “liberal” or decentralized way, in the sense that some principals would need to control only the tasks they have assigned to the agent. Potential applications to corporate compliance, the organization of government, and the management of innovation are briefly discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2001. "Incentives in Common Agency," Cahiers de recherche 01-08, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
  • Handle: RePEc:iea:carech:0108

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
    2. John M. Maheu & Thomas H. McCurdy, 2002. "Nonlinear Features of Realized FX Volatility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 668-681, November.
    3. Christoffersen, Peter & Ghysels, Eric & Swanson, Norman R., 2002. "Let's get "real" about using economic data," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 343-360, August.
    4. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Common Agency," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 923-942, July.
    5. Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin & Erwann Michel-Kerjan, 2001. "The Public-Private Sector Risk-Sharing in the French Insurance "Cat. Nat. System"""," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-60, CIRANO.
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    Cited by:

    1. Trommetter, M., 2008. "Intellectual property rights in agricultural and agro-food biotechnologies to 2030 (© OECD International Futures Programme)," Working Papers 200805, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).

    More about this item


    Multitasking; several principals; upper-tail audits.;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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