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Moral Hazard, Incentive Contracts and Risk: Evidence from Procurement

  • Gregory Lewis
  • Patrick Bajari

Deadlines and penalties are widely used to incentivize effort. We model how these incentive contracts affect the work rate and time taken in a procurement setting, characterizing the efficient contract design. Using new micro-level data on Minnesota highway construction contracts that includes day-by-day information on work plans, hours actually worked and delays, we find evidence of moral hazard. As an application, we build an econometric model that endogenizes the work rate, and simulate how different incentive structures affect outcomes and the variance of contractor payments. Accounting for the traffic delays caused by construction, switching to a more efficient design would substantially increase welfare without substantially increasing the risk borne by contractors.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17647.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17647.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Publication status: published as Moral Hazard, Incentive Contracts and Risk: Evidence from Procurement (with Patrick Bajari), forthcoming in Review of Economic Studies
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17647
Note: IO LE PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Patrick Bajari & Gregory Lewis, 2009. "Procurement Contracting with Time Incentives: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 14855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Patrick Bajari & Lixin Ye, 2001. "Deciding Between Competition and Collusion," Working Papers 01008, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  3. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Tore Olsen & Luigi Pistaferri, 2011. "Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Micro vs. Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Danish Tax Records," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 749-804.
  4. Hong, Han & Shum, Matthew, 2002. "Increasing Competition and the Winner's Curse: Evidence from Procurement," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 871-98, October.
  5. Dakshina De Silva & Timothy Dunne & Anuruddha Kankanamge & Georgia Kosmopoulou, 2005. "The Impact of Public Information on Bidding in Highway Procurement Auctions," Microeconomics 0511011, EconWPA.
  6. Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Martin Pesendorfer, 2003. "Estimation of a Dynamic Auction Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1443-1489, 09.
  7. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin, 1999. "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions," NBER Working Papers 7185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  9. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1986. "Bidding for Contracts: A Principal-Agent Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 326-338, Autumn.
  10. Patrick Bajari & Robert S. McMillan & Steve Tadelis, 2003. "Auctions Versus Negotiations in Procurement: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 9757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Porter, Robert H & Zona, J Douglas, 1993. "Detection of Bid Rigging in Procurement Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 518-38, June.
  12. Gil, Ricard & Marion, Justin, 2009. "The Role of Repeated Interactions, Self-Enforcing Agreements and Relational [Sub]Contracting: Evidence from California Highway Procurement Auctions," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt2kb8p0cd, University of California Transportation Center.
  13. Jonathan Levin & Steven Tadelis, 2007. "Contracting for Government Services: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Cities," NBER Working Papers 13350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Patrick Bajari & Stephanie Houghton & Steven Tadelis, 2004. "Bidding for Incompete Contracts," Working Papers 2004.141, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  15. Martimort, David & Pouyet, Jérôme, 2006. "'Build It or Not': Normative and Positive Theories of Public-Private Partnerships," CEPR Discussion Papers 5610, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Marion, Justin, 2007. "Are bid preferences benign? The effect of small business subsidies in highway procurement auctions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1591-1624, August.
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