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Adaptive Contracting: The Trial-and-Error Approach to Outsourcing


  • Morten Bennedsen

    (Copenhagen Business School)

  • Christian Schultz

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)


Adaptive contracting is defined as a strategy in which a principal experiments - through trial-and-error - with the degree of contractual completeness. We highlight two potential benefits of an adaptive approach: First, the implied delegation of authority can be beneficial for the principal even if the agent acts opportunistically. Second, the government extracts information from experimenting with delegation of authority and we identify a positive option value associated with this learning feature.

Suggested Citation

  • Morten Bennedsen & Christian Schultz, 2003. "Adaptive Contracting: The Trial-and-Error Approach to Outsourcing," Discussion Papers 03-18, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0318

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
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    10. William Easterly & Ross Levine & David Roodman, 2004. "Aid, Policies, and Growth: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 774-780, June.
    11. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
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    More about this item


    incomplete contracting; trial and error; authority; outsourcing;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • L97 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Utilities: General


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