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Are Tournaments Optimal over Piece Rates under Limited Liability for the Principal?

  • Kosmas Marinakis

    ()

    (Department of Economics, North Carolina State University)

  • Theofanis Tsoulouhas

    ()

    (Department of Economics, North Carolina State University)

A highly acclaimed result in contract theory is that tournaments are superior to piece rate contracts when the agents are risk averse and their production activities are subject to a relatively large common shock. The reason is that tournaments allow the principal to trade insurance for lower income to the agents. Our analysis shows that this celebrated result does not carry over to the case when a limited liability constraint limits the payments the principal can make, provided that the liquidation value of the firm is sufficiently small. This finding has important implications for the vast number of limited liability firms. Tournaments are still optimal when the liquidation value of the firm is intermediate or large, even though the limited liability constraint is still binding for intermediate values. Surprisingly, uncertainty in the price of output strengthens the need for tournaments by expanding the range of liquidation values over which tournaments are optimal, because price uncertainty introduces additional bankruptcy risk.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.ncsu.edu/pub/ncsu/economics/RePEc/pdf/TournamentsAndPieceRates.pdf
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Paper provided by North Carolina State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 009.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision: Sep 2006
Handle: RePEc:ncs:wpaper:009
Note: First draft 2006-01
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  1. Innes, Robert, 1993. "Debt, Futures and Options: Optimal Price-Linked Financial Contracts under Moral Hazard and Limited Liability," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(2), pages 271-95, May.
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  3. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Tsoulouhas, Theofanis, 1996. "Labor and credit contracts with asymmetric information and bankruptcy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1665-1682, November.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom & Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 742, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Steven Wu & Brian Roe, 2005. "Behavioral and Welfare Effects of Tournaments and Fixed Performance Contracts: Some Experimental Evidence," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(1), pages 130-146.
  7. Konrad, Kai A. & Kovenock, Dan, 2006. "Multi-Battle Contests," CEPR Discussion Papers 5645, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Steven Wu & Brian Roe, 2006. "Tournaments, Fairness, and Risk," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(3), pages 561-573.
  9. Theofanis Tsoulouhas & Charles R. Knoeber & Anup Agrawal, . "Contests to Become CEO: Incentives, Selection and Handicaps," Working Paper Series 002, North Carolina State University, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2004.
  10. Tsoulouhas, Theofanis, 1999. "Do tournaments solve the two-sided moral hazard problem?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 275-294, November.
  11. Wärneryd, Karl, 2000. "Information in Conflicts," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 388, Stockholm School of Economics.
  12. Kahn, Charles & Scheinkman, Jose, 1985. "Optimal employment contracts with bankruptcy constraints," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 343-365, August.
  13. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1983. "The Agent-Agents Problem: Payment by Relative Output," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 50-65, January.
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  15. Parlane, S., 1998. "Procurement Contracts under Limited Liability," Papers 98/3, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  16. Theofanis Tsoulouhas & Kosmas Marinakis, 2007. "Tournaments with Ex Post Heterogeneous Agents," Working Paper Series 015, North Carolina State University, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2007.
  17. Theofanis Tsoulouhas & Tomislav Vukina, 2001. "Regulating Broiler Contracts: Tournaments Versus Fixed Performance Standards," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(4), pages 1062-1073.
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  19. Roger E. A. Farmer, 1985. "Implicit Contracts with Asymmetric Information and Bankruptcy: The Effect of Interest Rates on Layoffs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 427-442.
  20. Armando Levy & Tomislav Vukina, 2004. "The League Composition Effect in Tournaments with Heterogeneous Players: An Empirical Analysis of Broiler Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 353-378, April.
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  24. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1996. "Contest Success Functions," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 7(2), pages 283-90, February.
  25. Meyer, Margaret A & Vickers, John, 1997. "Performance Comparisons and Dynamic Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 547-81, June.
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  27. Theofanis Tsoulouhas, 2010. "Introduction to the Symposium on Tournaments, Contests, and Relative Performance Evaluation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 635-641, 09.
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  31. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:4:y:2007:i:41:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. Kosmas Marinakis & Theofanis Tsoulouhas, 2012. "A comparison of cardinal tournaments and piece rate contracts with liquidity constrained agents," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 105(2), pages 161-190, March.
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  36. Knoeber, Charles R & Thurman, Walter N, 1994. "Testing the Theory of Tournaments: An Empirical Analysis of Broiler Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 155-79, April.
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