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Contract Renegotiation and Organizational Design


  • Michel Poitevin


This paper studies the implications of non-commitment for organizational design. An organizational form must trade-off between the coordination benefits associated with the centralization of information and its associated costs in terms of renegotiation. The analysis makes precise what these benefits and costs are. First, I characterize renegotiation-proof allocations for organizational forms that differ in the amount of decentralization that they support. Second, I compare these different organizational forms. The analysis shown that (1) complete decentralization of decision-making is always weakly dominated by a more centralized structures when information is dispersed in the organization; (2) the player with the most important or relevant information should be the decision-maker.

Suggested Citation

  • Michel Poitevin, 1995. "Contract Renegotiation and Organizational Design," Discussion Papers 1135, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1135

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Milgrom, Paul R, 1988. "Employment Contracts, Influence Activities, and Efficient Organization Design," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 42-60, February.
    2. Holmstrom, Bengt & Myerson, Roger B, 1983. "Efficient and Durable Decision Rules with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1799-1819, November.
    3. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1990. "Adverse Selection and Renegotiation in Procurement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 597-625.
    4. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
    5. Milgrom, Paul & Stokey, Nancy, 1982. "Information, trade and common knowledge," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 17-27, February.
    6. Paul Beaudry & Michel Poitevin, 1995. "Contract Renegotiation: A Simple Framework and Implications for Organization Theory," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(2), pages 302-335, May.
    7. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1992. "The Principal-Agent Relationship with an Informed Principal, II: Common Values," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 1-42, January.
    8. Jeremy Greenwood & R. Preston McAfee, 1991. "Externalities and Asymmetric Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 103-121.
    9. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1990. "Moral Hazard and Renegotiation in Agency Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1279-1319, November.
    10. Mathias Dewatripont, 1989. "Renegotiation and Information Revelation Over Time: The Case of Optimal Labor Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(3), pages 589-619.
    11. repec:bla:joares:v:25:y:1987:i::p:1-21 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Beaudry, Paul & Poitevin, Michel, 1993. "Signalling and Renegotiation in Contractual Relationships," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 745-782, July.
    13. Oliver D. Hart & Jean Tirole, 1988. "Contract Renegotiation and Coasian Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(4), pages 509-540.
    14. Guesnerie, Roger & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "A complete solution to a class of principal-agent problems with an application to the control of a self-managed firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 329-369, December.
    15. Melumad, Nahum & Mookherjee, Dilip & Reichelstein, Stefan, 1992. "A theory of responsibility centers," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 445-484, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bao, T. & Wang, Y., 2009. "Incomplete Contract and Divisional Structures," CeNDEF Working Papers 09-16, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Center for Nonlinear Dynamics in Economics and Finance.
    2. Jonathan Treussard, 2005. "Life-Cycle Consumption Plans and Portfolio Policies in a Heath-Jarrow-Morton Economy," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-033, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Theilen, Bernd, 2009. "Decentralization and the Gains from Monitoring," Working Papers 2072/42863, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    4. Te Bao & Yongqin Wang, 2012. "Incomplete contract, bargaining and optimal divisional structure," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 107(1), pages 81-96, September.
    5. Theilen Bernd, 2009. "Monitoring Gains and Decentralization," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-26, September.
    6. Caillaud, B. & Jullien, B. & Picard, P., 1996. "Hierarchical organization and incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 687-695, April.
    7. Dilip Mookherjee, 2006. "Decentralization, Hierarchies, and Incentives: A Mechanism Design Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(2), pages 367-390, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation


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