IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Satisficing Contracts

  • Patrick Bolton
  • Antoine Faure-Grimaud

We propose a model of equilibrium contracting between two agents who are "boundedly rational" in the sense that they face time-costs of deliberating current and future transactions. We show that equilibrium contracts may be incomplete and assign control rights: they may leave some enforceable future transactions unspecified and instead specify which agent has the right to decide these transactions. Control rights allow the controlling agent to defer time-consuming deliberations on those transactions to a later date, making her less inclined to prolong negotiations over an initial incomplete contract. Still, agents tend to resolve conflicts up-front by writing more complete initial contracts. A more complete contract can take the form of either a finer adaptation to future contingencies, or greater coarseness. Either way, conflicts among contracting agents tend to result in excessively complete contracts in the sense that the maximization of joint payoffs would result in less up-front deliberation.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14654.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Patrick Bolton & Antoine Faure-Grimaud, 2010. "Satisficing Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 77(3), pages 937-971, 07.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14654
Note: CF IO LE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Bajari, Patrick & Tadelis, Steven, 2001. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 387-407, Autumn.
  2. Nabil J Al-Najjar & Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 2002. "Unforeseen Contingencies," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 431, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  3. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "A two-armed bandit theory of market pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 185-202, October.
  4. Surajeet Chakravarty & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2008. "Contracting in the Shadow of the Law," NBER Working Papers 13960, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 1999. "Costly Bargaining and Renegotiation," CESifo Working Paper Series 213, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2002. "Rigidity, Discretion, and the Costs of Writing Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 798-817, September.
  7. 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.
  8. Hart, Oliver D & Moore, John, 1988. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 755-85, July.
  9. Bienz, Carsten & Walz, Uwe, 2008. "Venture capital exit rights," CFS Working Paper Series 2009/05, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  10. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
  11. Anderlini, L. & Felli, L., 1993. "Incomplete Written Contracts: Undescribable States of Nature," Papers 183, Cambridge - Risk, Information & Quantity Signals.
  12. Radner, Roy & Rothschild, Michael, 1975. "On the allocation of effort," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 358-376, June.
  13. Dye, Ronald A, 1985. "Costly Contract Contingencies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(1), pages 233-50, February.
  14. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114, January.
  15. Kaplan, Steven N. & Martel, Frederic & Stromberg, Per, 2007. "How do legal differences and experience affect financial contracts?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 273-311, July.
  16. Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Bolton, 2005. "Contract theory," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9543, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  17. Conlisk, John, 1988. "Optimization cost," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 213-228, April.
  18. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14654. 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: ()

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.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.