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Contracting in the Absence of Specific Investments and Moral Hazard: Understanding Carrier-Driver Relations in U.S. Trucking

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  • Francine Lafontaine
  • Scott E. Masten

Abstract

This paper considers functions of contracting other than the protection of relationship-specific investments and the provision of marginal incentives, and applies the theory to explain variation in the form of compensation of over-the-road truck drivers in the U.S. Specifically, we argue that contracts in this industry serve to economize on the costs of price determination for heterogeneous transactions. We show that the actual terms of those contracts vary systematically with the nature of hauls in a way that is consistent with the theory. By contrast, we find that vehicle ownership, which defines a driver's status as an owner operator or company driver, depends on driver, but not trailer or haul, characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8859
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    1. Goldberg, Victor P & Erickson, John R, 1987. "Quantity and Price Adjustment in Long-term Contracts: A Case Study of Petroleum Coke," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 369-398, October.
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    4. Pirrong, Stephen Craig, 1993. "Contracting Practices in Bulk Shipping Markets: A Transactions Cost Explanation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 937-976, October.
    5. Canice Prendergast, 2000. "The Tenuous Tradeoff Between Risk and Incentives," NBER Working Papers 7815, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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 444-463, July.
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    8. Francine Lafontaine & Margaret E. Slade, 1998. "Incentive Contracting and the Franchise Decision," NBER Working Papers 6544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    10. Pittman, Russell, 1992. "Specific Investments, Contracts, and Opportunism: The Evolution of Railroad Sidetrack Agreements," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 565-589, October.
    11. Thomas N. Hubbard, 1999. "How Wide is the Scope of Hold-Up-Based Theories? Contractual Form and Market Thickness in Trucking," NBER Working Papers 7347, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Paul Oyer, 2004. "Why Do Firms Use Incentives That Have No Incentive Effects?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1619-1650, August.
    13. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-535, June.
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    17. Jack A. Nickerson & Brian S. Silverman, 2003. "Why aren't all Truck Drivers Owner-Operators? Asset Ownership and the Employment Relation in Interstate for-hire Trucking," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 91-118, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy Bresnahan & Jonathan Levin, 2012. "Vertical Integration and Market Structure," Introductory Chapters,in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
    2. Singer, Marcos & Donoso, Patricio, 2011. "Contracting contractors," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 338-343, March.
    3. Jean-Michel Oudot & Claude Ménard, 2010. "Opportunisme ou équité ? Le cas des contrats d’approvisionnement de défense," Revue Française d'Économie, Programme National Persée, vol. 24(3), pages 195-226.
    4. Gibbons, Robert, 2005. "Four forma(lizable) theories of the firm?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 200-245, October.
    5. Benito Arruñada & Manuel González-Díaz & Alberto Fernández, 2004. "Determinants of organizational form: transaction costs and institutions in the European trucking industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(6), pages 867-882, December.
    6. Martinez, Stephen W. & Zering, Kelly D., 2004. "Pork Quality And The Role Of Market Organizaton," Agricultural Economics Reports 33973, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    7. Jan Vang, 2003. "Organization of the News Industry, The Case of 'Making-or-Buying' Article s," DRUID Working Papers 03-13, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    8. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00624280 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Wernerfelt, Birger, 2003. "Governance of Adjustments," Working papers 4412-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    10. Scott E. Masten, 2002. "Modern Evidence on the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 428-432, May.
    11. Marcos Singer & Patricio Donoso & Sven Widdel, 2007. "¿Premian Las Tarifas El Desempeño Del Transportista?," Abante, Escuela de Administracion. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 10(1), pages 21-55.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations

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