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Governance of Adjustments

  • Wernerfelt, Birger

The article proposes a research program to compare game forms in terms of their ability to govern ex post adjustments to ex ante contracts. The comparisons can be based on direct implementation-costs or the extent to which desirable adjustments are not implemented. In several examples of the program, we compare three game forms: Negotiation over each adjustment, ex ante price lists, and implicit contracts leaving the stipulation of adjustments to one player. If the latter game form is defined as an employment relationship, the theory of the firm becomes a special case of the program. The article starts with a discussion of the nature and magnitude of adjustment-costs, followed by an exposition of four examples. We then discuss the role of asset ownership, review some empirical evidence, and look at broader implications.

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Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management in its series Working papers with number 4412-03.

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Date of creation: 14 Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:1836
Phone: 617-253-2659
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  1. Geanakoplos, John & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "A theory of hierarchies based on limited managerial attention," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 205-225, September.
  2. Duncan I. Simester & Birger Wernerfelt, 2005. "Determinants of Asset Ownership: A Study of the Carpentry Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 50-58, February.
  3. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1999. "On the design of hierarchies: coordination versus specialization," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19340, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Steven Tadelis, 2002. "Complexity, Flexibility, and the Make-or-Buy Decision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 433-437, May.
  5. Patrick Bajari & Robert McMillan & Steven Tadelis, . "Auctions versus Negotiations in Procurement: An Empirical Analysis," Working Papers 02007, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  6. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, . "Power in a Theory of the Firm," CRSP working papers 335, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  7. Myerson, Roger B. & Satterthwaite, Mark A., 1983. "Efficient mechanisms for bilateral trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-281, April.
  8. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Firm as a Dedicated Hierarchy: A Theory of the Origin and Growth of Firms," NBER Working Papers 7546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bengt Holmstrom & Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 742, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  10. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Wernerfelt, Birger, 1997. "On the Nature and Scope of the Firm: An Adjustment-Cost Theory," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70(4), pages 489-514, October.
  12. Patrick Bajari & Steven Tadelis, 1999. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," Working Papers 99029, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  13. Francine Lafontaine & Scott E. Masten, 2002. "Contracting in the Absence of Specific Investments and Moral Hazard: Understanding Carrier-Driver Relations in U.S. Trucking," NBER Working Papers 8859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Kirk Monteverde, 1995. "Technical Dialog as an Incentive for Vertical Integration in the Semiconductor Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(10), pages 1624-1638, October.
  15. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
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