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Costly Contracting in a Long-Term Relationship

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  • Pierpaolo Battigalli
  • Giovanni Maggi

Abstract

We examine a model of contracting where parties interact repeatedly and can contract at any point in time, but writing enforceable contracts is costly. A contract can describe contingencies and actions at a more or less detailed level, and the cost of writing a contract is proportional to the amount of detail. We consider both formal (externally enforced) and informal (self-enforcing) contracts. The presence of writing costs has important implications both for the optimal structure of formal contracts, particularly the tradeoff between contingent and spot contracts, and for the interaction between formal and informal contracting. Our model sheds light on these implications and generates a rich set of predictions about the determinants of the optimal mode of contracting.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2003. "Costly Contracting in a Long-Term Relationship," Working Papers 249, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:249
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Erkal, Nisvan & Wu, Steven Y. & Roe, Brian E., 2014. "Strategic Incomplete Contracts: Theory and Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 8704, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Dhillon, Amrita & Rigolini, Jamele, 2011. "Development and the interaction of enforcement institutions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 79-87.
    3. Battigalli, Pierpaolo & Fumagalli, Chiara & Polo, Michele, 2007. "Buyer power and quality improvements," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 45-61, June.
    4. Kvaløy, Ola & Olsen, Trond E., 2015. "The tenuous relationship between effort and performance pay," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 32-39.
    5. Sharon Novak & Scott Stern, 2008. "How Does Outsourcing Affect Performance Dynamics? Evidence from the Automobile Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(12), pages 1963-1979, December.
    6. Ola Kvaløy & Trond E. Olsen, 2016. "Incentive Provision when Contracting is Costly," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 741-767, October.
    7. Antoine Faure-Grimaud & Eloïc Peyrache & Lucía Quesada, 2009. "The ownership of ratings," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(2), pages 234-257.
    8. Matthias Fahn & Valeria Merlo & Georg Wamser, 2017. "Relational Contracts, the Cost of Enforcing Formal Contracts, and Capital Structure Choice - Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 6562, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Kukharskyy, Bohdan, 2016. "Relational contracts and global sourcing," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 123-147.
    10. Hyytinen, Ari & Steen, Frode & Toivanen, Otto, 2012. "Anatomy of Cartel Contracts," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 25/2012, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    11. Ola Kvaløy & Trond E. Olsen, 2009. "Endogenous Verifiability and Relational Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2193-2208, December.
    12. Wu, Steven Y., 2013. "Adapting Contract Theory to Fit Contract Farming," 2014 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 3-5, 2014, Philadelphia, PA 161894, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    13. Jean Beuve & Claudine Desrieux, 2011. "Relational contracts as a foundation for contractual incompleteness," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01463000, HAL.
    14. López-Bayón, Susana & González-Díaz, Manuel, 2010. "Indefinite contract duration: Evidence from electronics subcontracting," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 145-159, June.
    15. Aurélien Portuese, 2012. "Law and economics of the European multilingualism," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 279-325, October.
    16. Claudine Desrieux & Jean Beuve, 2011. "Relational contracts as a foundation for contractual incompleteness," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(3), pages 2030-2040.
    17. James M. Malcomson, 2012. "Relational Incentive Contracts," Introductory Chapters,in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
    18. M'hand Fares, 2009. "Specific Performance, Separability Condition and the Hold-Up Problem," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(3), pages 2055-2062.
    19. Hu, Yifan & Qiu, Larry D., 2010. "An empirical analysis of contracting by Chinese firms," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 423-431, September.
    20. Hermalin, Benjamin E. & Li, Larry & Naughton, Tony, 2013. "The relational underpinnings of formal contracting and the welfare consequences of legal system improvement," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 72-76.

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