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Hold-up and Sequential Specific Investments

  • Smirnov, V.
  • Wait, A.

We explore the hold-up problem when trading parties can make specific investments simultaneously or sequentially. As previously emphasized in the literature, sequencing of investments can allow some projects to proceed that would not be feasible with a simultaneous regime. This is not always the case, however. A cost of sequencing investment is that it can disadvantage some parties, reducing their incentive to invest. The mere possibility of sequential investment can be detrimental to welfare; it can even prevent trade from occurring. This is a new result: it allows the choice about the timing of investment to be interpreted as a new form of hold-up. We also examine an investment game in which both parties would prefer to invest second (follow) rather than lead. This game displays some interesting dynamics. As the the number of potential investment periods is increased, the subgame perfect equilibrium can switch between a prisoners’ dilemma and a coordination game.

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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 807.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:807
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  1. Smirnov, Vladimir & Wait, Andrew, 2004. "Timing of investments, holdup and total welfare," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 413-425, March.
  2. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Foundations of Incomplete Contracts," NBER Working Papers 6726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1985. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," Working papers 367, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  5. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, March.
  6. Neher, Darwin V, 1999. "Staged Financing: An Agency Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 255-74, April.
  7. De Fraja, Gianni, 1999. "After You Sir. Hold-Up, Direct Externalities, and Sequential Investment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 22-39, January.
  8. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1993. "Investments, Holdup, and the Form of Market Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 811-37, September.
  9. Admati, Anat R & Perry, Motty, 1991. "Joint Projects without Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 259-76, April.
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