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Optimal Delegation with a Finite Number of States

  • Vincent Anesi

    (University of Nottingham)

  • Daniel J. Seidmann

    (University of Nottingham)

This paper contributes to the literature on optimal delegation, dating back to Holmstrom's (1984) seminal work. In contrast to models in the Holmstrom tradition, we assume that the set of states is finite. We provide a full characterization of the class of optimal delegation sets under this assumption, and show that they have a different structure from that in the continuous-state model. As the number of states tends to infinity, however, every optimal delegation set converges to that of Holmstrom (1984). We also show that, for intermediate bias, the Ally Principal fails for small changes in bias, the Uncertainty Principle may fail, and the principal prefers to appoint an amateur agent.

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Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2009-20.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2009-20
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School of Economics University of Nottingham University Park Nottingham NG7 2RD

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  1. Manuel Amador & Iván Werning & George-Marios Angeletos, 2006. "Commitment vs. Flexibility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 365-396, 03.
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  6. Vincent Anesi & Daniel J. Seidmann, 2011. "Optimal Delegation with a Finite Number of States," Discussion Papers 2011-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  7. Callander, Steven, 2008. "A Theory of Policy Expertise," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(2), pages 123-140, July.
  8. Frédéric Koessler & David Martimort, 2012. "Optimal Delegation with Multi-dimensional Decisions," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00754576, HAL.
  9. Martimort, David & Semenov, Aggey, 2006. "Continuity in mechanism design without transfers," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 182-189, November.
  10. Ivanov, Maxim, 2010. "Informational control and organizational design," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(2), pages 721-751, March.
  11. Sanford C. Gordon, 2007. "Directing Retribution: On the Political Control of Lower Court Judges," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 386-420, June.
  12. Craig Volden, 2002. "Delegating Power to Bureaucracies: Evidence from the States," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 187-220, April.
  13. Vickers, John, 1985. "Delegation and the Theory of the Firm," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(380a), pages 138-47, Supplemen.
  14. Kovác, Eugen & Mylovanov, Tymofiy, 2009. "Stochastic mechanisms in settings without monetary transfers: The regular case," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(4), pages 1373-1395, July.
  15. Nahum D. Melumad & Toshiyuki Shibano, 1991. "Communication in Settings with No. Transfers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(2), pages 173-198, Summer.
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