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Relational Delegation


  • Alonso, Ricardo

    () (Northwestern University)

  • Matouschek, Niko

    () (Northwestern University)


We explore the optimal delegation of decision rights by a principal to a better informed but biased agent. In an infinitely repeated game a long lived principal faces a series of short lived agents. Every period they play a cheap talk game ala Crawford and Sobel (1982) with constant bias, quadratic loss functions and general distributions of the state of the world. We characterize the optimal delegation schemes for all discount rates and show that they resemble organizational arrangements that are commonly observed, including centralization and threshold delegation. For small biases threshold delegation is optimal for almost all distributions. Outsourcing can only be optimal if the principal is sufficiently impatient.

Suggested Citation

  • Alonso, Ricardo & Matouschek, Niko, 2005. "Relational Delegation," IZA Discussion Papers 1454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1454

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2008. "Contracting for information under imperfect commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(4), pages 905-925.
    2. Jonathan Levin, 2003. "Relational Incentive Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 835-857, June.
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    5. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-329, May.
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    7. Robert A. Taggart Jr., 1987. "Allocating Capital Among A Firm'S Divisions: Hurdle Rates Vs. Budgets," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 10(3), pages 177-190, September.
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    14. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
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    More about this item


    delegation; relational contract; cheap talk;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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