IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

On Reputation: A Microfoundation of Contract Enforcement and Price Rigidity

  • Fehr, Ernst


    (University of Zurich)

  • Brown, Martin


    (Swiss National Bank)

  • Zehnder, Christian


    (University of Lausanne)

We study the impact of reputational incentives in markets characterized by moral hazard problems. Social preferences have been shown to enhance contract enforcement in these markets, while at the same time generating considerable wage and price rigidity. Reputation powerfully amplifies the positive effects of social preferences on contract enforcement by increasing contract efficiency substantially. This effect is, however, associated with a considerable bilateralisation of market interactions, suggesting that it may aggravate price rigidities. Surprisingly, reputation in fact weakens the wage and price rigidities arising from social preferences. Thus, in markets characterized by moral hazard, reputational incentives unambiguously increase mutually beneficial exchanges, reduce rents, and render markets more responsive to supply and demand shocks.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3655.

in new window

Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2009, 119 (536), 333 - 353
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3655
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. repec:oup:qjecon:v:105:y:1990:i:4:p:1003-15 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 1999. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 106-134, February.
  3. David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
  4. Martin Brown & Christian Zehnder, 2007. "Credit Reporting, Relationship Banking, and Loan Repayment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(8), pages 1883-1918, December.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, . "Robustness and Real Consequences of Nominal Wage Rigidity," IEW - Working Papers 044, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Alan S. Blinder, 1991. "Why are Prices Sticky? Preliminary Results from an Interview Study," NBER Working Papers 3646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:2:p:657-80 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Dickens, William T. & Götte, Lorenz & Groshen, Erica L. & Holden, Steinar & Messina, Julián & Schweitzer, Mark E. & Turunen, Jarkko & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie, 2006. "How wages change: micro evidence from the International Wage Flexibility Project," Working Paper Series 0697, European Central Bank.
  9. R. Lynn Hannan & John H. Kagel & Donald V. Moser, 2002. "Partial Gift Exchange in an Experimental Labor Market: Impact of Subject Population Differences, Productivity Differences, and Effort Requests on Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 923-951, October.
  10. Peter AUER & Sandrine CAZES, 2000. "The resilience of the long-term employment relationship: Evidence from the industrialized countries," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 139(4), pages 379-408, December.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  12. Charles Bellemare, 2007. "Gift exchange within a firm: Evidence from a field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00215, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1998. "Motivation and Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 388-411, June.
  14. John A. List, 2006. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-37, February.
  15. Hannan, Timothy H & Berger, Allen N, 1991. "The Rigidity of Prices: Evidence from the Banking Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 938-45, September.
  16. Gachter, Simon & Falk, Armin, 2002. " Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(1), pages 1-26.
  17. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  18. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:39-84 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2004. "Do Labour Market Conditions Affect Gift Exchange? Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 684-708, 07.
  20. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  21. Joseph G. Altonji & Paul J. Devereux, 1999. "The Extent and Consequences of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity," NBER Working Papers 7236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Brown, Martin & Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2003. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," IZA Discussion Papers 897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Dennis W. Carlton, 1986. "The Rigidity of Prices," NBER Working Papers 1813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  25. repec:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:4:p:1125-56 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Douglas W. Diamond, 1998. "Reputation Acquisition in Debt Markets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 602, David K. Levine.
  27. Florian Englmaier & Stephen G. Leider, 2008. "Contractual and Organizational Structurewith Reciprocal Agents," CESifo Working Paper Series 2415, CESifo Group Munich.
  28. Michel Marechal & Puppe Clemens & Sebastian Kube, 2006. "Putting reciprocity to work - positive versus negative responses in the field," Natural Field Experiments 00291, The Field Experiments Website.
  29. Boot, Arnoud W A & Thakor, Anjan V, 1994. "Moral Hazard and Secured Lending in an Infinitely Repeated Credit Market Game," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(4), pages 899-920, November.
  30. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
  31. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
  32. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "Nominal Wage Rigidity and the Rate of Inflation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0489, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  33. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  34. Gary Charness & Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel, 2004. "How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 189-205, 06.
  35. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  36. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  37. repec:oup:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:2:p:437-59 is not listed on IDEAS
  38. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2008. "Competition and Relational Contracts: The Role of Unemployment as a Disciplinary Device," Working Papers 2008-07, Swiss National Bank.
  39. Cecchetti, Stephen G., 1986. "The frequency of price adjustment : A study of the newsstand prices of magazines," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 255-274, April.
  40. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  41. repec:oup:qjecon:v:105:y:1990:i:2:p:255-83 is not listed on IDEAS
  42. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  43. Berger, Allen N & Udell, Gregory F, 1995. "Relationship Lending and Lines of Credit in Small Firm Finance," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(3), pages 351-81, July.
  44. Salop, Steven C, 1979. "A Model of the Natural Rate of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 117-25, March.
  45. Camerer, Colin & Weigelt, Keith, 1988. "Experimental Tests of a Sequential Equilibrium Reputation Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 1-36, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3655. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.