IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper



  • Federico Etro


  • Michela Cella



We analyze competition between firms engaged in R&D activities in the choice of incentive contracts for managers with hidden productivities. The equilibrium screening contracts require extra effort/investment from the most productive managers compared to the first best contracts: under additional assumptions on the hazard rate of the distribution of types we obtain no- distortion in the middle rather than at the top. Moreover, the equilibrium contracts are characterized by effort differentials between (any) two types that are always increasing with the number of firms, suggesting a positive re- lation between competition and high-powered incentives. An inverted-U curve between competition and absolute investments can emerge for the most pro- ductive managers, especially when entry is endogenous. These results persist when contracts are not observable, when they include quantity precommit- ments, and when products are imperfect substitutes.

Suggested Citation

  • Federico Etro & Michela Cella, 2010. "EQUILIBRIUM PRINCIPAL-AGENT CONTRACTS Competition and R&D Incentives," Working Papers 180, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:180

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2010
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Shupp, Robert & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Schmidt, David & Walker, James, 2013. "Resource allocation contests: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 257-267.
    3. Craig E. Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2006. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 747-782.
    4. Szymanski, Stefan & Valletti, Tommaso M., 2005. "Incentive effects of second prizes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 467-481, June.
    5. Arthur J.H.C. Schram & Sander Onderstal, 2009. "Bidding To Give: An Experimental Comparison Of Auctions For Charity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(2), pages 431-457, May.
    6. Henrik Orzen, 2005. "Fundraising through Competition: Evidence from the Lab," Discussion Papers 2005-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    8. Barut, Yasar & Kovenock, Dan, 1998. "The symmetric multiple prize all-pay auction with complete information," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 627-644, November.
    9. John Morgan & Martin Sefton, 2000. "Funding Public Goods with Lotteries: Experimental Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 785-810.
    10. Marco Faravelli, 2011. "The Important Thing Is Not (Always) Winning but Taking Part: Funding Public Goods with Contests," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(1), pages 1-22, February.
    11. Glazer, Amihai & Hassin, Refael, 1988. "Optimal Contests," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 133-143, January.
    12. Jacob K. Goeree & Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal & John L. Turner, 2005. "How (Not) to Raise Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 897-926, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Michela Cella & Federico Etro, 2016. "Contract competition between hierarchies, managerial compensation and imperfectly correlated shocks," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 118(3), pages 193-218, July.
    2. Ennasri, Ahmed & Willinger, Marc, 2014. "Incentives and managerial effort under competitive pressure: An experiment," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 324-337.
    3. Michela Cella & Federico Etro, 2010. "Oligopolistic Screening and Two-way Distortion," Working Papers 2010_28, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    4. Federico Etro, 2014. "Some thoughts on the Sutton approach," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 99-113, June.

    More about this item


    Principal-agent contracts; asymmetric information; endogenous market structures;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:180. 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: (Matteo Pelagatti). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.