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The Macroeconomics of Delegated Management


  • Jean-Pierre DANTHINE


We are interested in the macroeconomic implications of the separation of ownership and control. An alternative decentralized interpretation of the stochastic growth model is proposed, one where shareholders hire a self-interested manager who is in charge of the firm's hiring and investment decisions. Delegation is seen to give rise to a generic conflict of interests between shareholders and managers. This conflict fundamentally results from the different income base of the two types of agents, once aggregate market clearing conditions are taken into account. An optimal contract exists resulting in an observational equivalence between the delegated management economy and the standard representative agent business cycle model. The optimal contract, however, appears to be miles away from standard practice: the manager's remuneration is tied to the firm's total income net of investment expenses, abstracting totally from wage costs. In order to align the interest of a manager more conventionally remunerated on the basis of the firm's operating results to those of stockholder-workers, the manager must be made nearly risk neutral. We show the limited power of convex contracts to accomplish this goal and the necessity, if the manager is too risk averse (log or higher than log), of considerably downplaying the incentive features of his remuneration. The difficulty in reconciling the viewpoints of a manager with powers of delegation and of a representative firm owner casts doubt on the descriptive validity of the macro-dynamics highlighted in the representative agent macroeconomic model.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Pierre DANTHINE & John B. DONALDSON, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Delegated Management," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 03.12, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  • Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:03.12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Dow & Gary Gorton & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2003. "Equilibrium Asset Prices Under Imperfect Corporate Control," NBER Working Papers 9758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rui Albuquerue & Neng Wang, 2008. "Agency Conflicts, Investment, and Asset Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(1), pages 1-40, February.
    2. De Paoli, Bianca & Scott, Alasdair & Weeken, Olaf, 2010. "Asset pricing implications of a New Keynesian model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 2056-2073, October.
    3. Gorton, Gary B. & He, Ping & Huang, Lixin, 2014. "Agency-based asset pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 311-349.

    More about this item


    business cycles; delegated management; contracting;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy


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