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Principal and Expert Agent

  • James Malcomson

This paper analyses principal-agent contracts when the agent`s action generates information not directly verifiable but used by the agent to make a risky decision. It considers a more general formulation than those studied previously, focusing on the impact on the decision made and the contract between principal and agent. It establishes a precise sense in which distorting decisions reduces the risk borne by a risk-averse agent and conditions under which implementing an optimal decision rule imposes no substantive restrictions on the contract. The paper also uses an application to bidding to supply a good or service to illustrate those results and derive additional ones. A risk-neutral agent with limited liability may optimally choose lower, less risky bids or higher, more risky bids, according to which relaxes the limited liability constraint. There are also natural conditions under which optimal contracts are monotone, possibly with flat sections, like stock option rewards.

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper193.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 193.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:193
Contact details of provider: Postal: Manor Rd. Building, Oxford, OX1 3UQ
Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. Oliver Hart & Bengt Holmstrom, 1986. "The Theory of Contracts," Working papers 418, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Dezsö SZALAY, 2004. "Contracts with Endogenous Information," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 04.05, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  3. Crémer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1996. "Strategic Information Gathering Before a Contract Is Offered," IDEI Working Papers 61, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  4. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "The First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1357-67, November.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
  6. Khalil, F & Rochet, J-C, 1997. "Contracts and Productive Information Gathering," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 97-16, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  7. Cremer, J. & Khalil, F., 1991. "Gathering Information Before Signing a Contract," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 91-16, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  8. Innes, Robert D., 1990. "Limited liability and incentive contracting with ex-ante action choices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 45-67, October.
  9. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1997. "Information Management in Incentive Problems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 796-821, August.
  10. Gromb, Denis & Martimort, David, 2004. "The Organization of Delegated Expertise," CEPR Discussion Papers 4572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
  12. Palomino, Frederic & Prat, Andrea, 2003. " Risk Taking and Optimal Contracts for Money Managers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(1), pages 113-37, Spring.
  13. Osband, Kent, 1989. "Optimal Forecasting Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1091-1112, October.
  14. Barron, John M. & Waddell, Glen R., 2003. "Executive rank, pay and project selection," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 305-349, February.
  15. Mirrlees, J A, 1999. "The Theory of Moral Hazard and Unobservable Behaviour: Part I," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 3-21, January.
  16. Jewitt, Ian, 1988. "Justifying the First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1177-90, September.
  17. Bruno Biais & Catherine Casamatta, 1999. "Optimal Leverage and Aggregate Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1291-1323, 08.
  18. Feess, Eberhard & Walzl, Markus, 2004. "Delegated expertise--when are good projects bad news?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 77-82, January.
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