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Pre-Contractual Information Acquisition

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Abstract

We consider a principal-agent model in which the agent may acquire costly infor-mation about his e¤ort costs before he accepts a contract. The model departs from the literature in two ways: (1) the information is 'hard' in the sense that it can be credibly communicated, and (2) the parties are unable to commit to not renegotiate their contract. When the cost of acquiring information is low, the optimal contract induces information acquisition. In this case the contract is renegotiated and leaves the agent no rent. When the information cost is higher, the optimal contract induces the agent not to acquire information. In this case, if the cost is not too high, quantities are ine¢cient and the agent may receive rent. If the cost is yet higher, the contract again yields e¢cient quantities and leaves the agent no rent. These results hold also if parties can commit themselves not to renegotiate.

Suggested Citation

  • Manuel Willington, 2004. "Pre-Contractual Information Acquisition," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv154, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
  • Handle: RePEc:ila:ilades:inv154
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cremer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad, 1992. "Gathering Information before Signing a Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 566-578, June.
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    5. Cremer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1998. "Contracts and Productive Information Gathering," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 174-193, November.
    6. Lewis Tracy R. & Sappington David E. M., 1993. "Ignorance in Agency Problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 169-183, October.
    7. M. Dewatripont & E. Maskin, 1995. "Contractual Contingencies and Renegotiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(4), pages 704-719, Winter.
    8. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 257-282, March.
    9. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114.
    10. Dirk Bergemann & Juuso Valimaki, 2002. "Information Acquisition and Efficient Mechanism Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 1007-1033, May.
    11. Craswell, Richard, 1988. "Precontractual Investigation as an Optimal Precaution Problem," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 401-436, June.
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    13. Jacques Crémer, 1995. "Arm's Length Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 275-295.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Information Acquisition; Hard Information; Renegotiation.;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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