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The Hold-Down Problem and the Boundaries of the Firm: Lesson from a Hidden Action Model with Endogenous Outside Option

Author

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  • Schnedler, Wendelin

    () (University of Paderborn)

  • Sunde, Uwe

    () (University of Munich)

Abstract

This paper offers a rationale for limiting the delegation of (real) authority, which neither relies on insurance arguments nor depends on ownership structure. We analyse a repeated hidden action model in which the actions of a risk neutral agent determine his future outside option. Consequently, the agent can improve his future bargaining position, which gives the principal an incentive to retain sufficient control over the agent’s actions. Using respective one-period contracts, the principal can implement the efficient outcome while “selling the shop” to the agent is sub-optimal. This provides an argument for integration if the boundary of the firm is defined by control rights rather than the entitlement to revenues.

Suggested Citation

  • Schnedler, Wendelin & Sunde, Uwe, 2002. "The Hold-Down Problem and the Boundaries of the Firm: Lesson from a Hidden Action Model with Endogenous Outside Option," IZA Discussion Papers 464, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp464
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1990. "Short-term contracts and long-term agency relationships," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 1-31, June.
    2. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
    3. Georg Noeldeke & Klaus Schmidt, 1998. "Sequential Investments and Options to Own," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 633-653, Winter.
    4. Ching-to Albert Ma, 1991. "Adverse Selection in Dynamic Moral Hazard," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 255-275.
    5. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1994. "Recursive contracts," Economics Working Papers 337, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1998.
    6. Fernandes, Ana & Phelan, Christopher, 2000. "A Recursive Formulation for Repeated Agency with History Dependence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 223-247, April.
    7. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration versus Outsourcing in Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    hidden action; moral hazard; endogenous outside option; authority; outsourcing;

    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
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out

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