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Implicit Contracts and the Theory of the Firm

  • George Baker
  • Robert Gibbons
  • Kevin J. Murphy

We analyze the role of implicit contracts' (that is, informal agreements supported by" reputation rather than law) both within firms, for example in employment relationships between them, for example as hand-in-glove supplier relationships. We find that the optimal" organizational form is determined largely by what implicit contracts it facilitates. Among other" things, we also show that vertical integration is an efficient response to widely varying supply" prices. Finally, our model suggests why management' (that is, the development and" implementation of unwritten rules and codes of conduct) is essential in organizations. "

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6177.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6177.

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Date of creation: Sep 1997
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Publication status: Published as "The Internal Economics of the Firm: Evidence from Personal Data", Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 109, no. 4 (1994): 881-919.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6177
Note: CF IO
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  1. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
  2. Kole, Stacey R., 1997. "The complexity of compensation contracts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 79-104, January.
  3. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1997. "Incomplete Contracts and Strategic Ambiguity," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1787, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  5. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
  6. Klein, Benjamin, 1996. "Why Hold-Ups Occur: The Self-Enforcing Range of Contractual Relationships," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(3), pages 444-63, July.
  7. Green, Edward J. & Porter, Robert H., 1982. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Working Papers 367, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  8. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Baker, George P, 1992. "Incentive Contracts and Performance Measurement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 598-614, June.
  10. Maija Halonen, 2002. "Reputation And The Allocation Of Ownership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 539-558, July.
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