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More than the Money: Payoff-Irrelevant Terms in Relational Contracts

Author

Listed:
  • Cromwell, Erich

    (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

  • Goerg, Sebastian J.

    () (Technische Universität München)

  • Leszczynska, Monika

    (New York University School of Law)

Abstract

We investigate how payoff-irrelevant terms can negatively impact relational contracts. In a lab experiment we compare two economically equivalent contracts – a fixed-term renewable and an open-ended at-will contract. Each contract provides partners with full flexibility regarding the length and termination of their interaction. When only one contract type is available, principals and agents in our experiment manage to form long-term profitable relationships irrespective of the contract type. However, when both contracts are available offering a fixed-term instead of an open-ended contract is perceived as unkind and results in lower effort provided by the agents. We show that this observed difference is not a matter of sorting, but a direct response to the contract type. Our results demonstrate that a relational contract might be affected by payoff-irrelevant terms and their perceived kindness.

Suggested Citation

  • Cromwell, Erich & Goerg, Sebastian J. & Leszczynska, Monika, 2018. "More than the Money: Payoff-Irrelevant Terms in Relational Contracts," IZA Discussion Papers 11712, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11712
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    4. Ben Greiner, 2004. "The Online Recruitment System ORSEE 2.0 - A Guide for the Organization of Experiments in Economics," Working Paper Series in Economics 10, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
    5. Ben Greiner, 2004. "The Online Recruitment System ORSEE - A Guide for the Organization of Experiments in Economics," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2003-10, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    contract design; relational contracts; reciprocity; trust;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law

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