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Incomplete Contracts: Foundations and Applications

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  • Pei, Di

Abstract

More than twenty years have elapsed since Oliver Hart's Fisher-Schultz lecture on the topic of incomplete contracts. Incomplete contract theory (ICT) has become a rigorous and widely used approach in dealing with various issues. It's applications include firm theory (hierarchies, ownership and control rights, authority,etc.), international trade (judicial quality as comparative advantage, intra-firm trade, etc.), scope of organizations (including the government, see Hart et. al. 1997) and many others. However, it's theoretical foundations have been seriously debated since its first emergence, and even today, the debate is not coming to an end. We will review several significant works on the foundations on ICT, and from comparing their differences in assumptions, methodology and results, we could get some merit on the critical disagreement over these issues, and from these critical disagreements, we could also capture the central ideas for future research on this field. The critical comments on Hart and Moore's 2008 paper about reference point may also suggest that ICT desperately need a solid foundation.

Suggested Citation

  • Pei, Di, 2010. "Incomplete Contracts: Foundations and Applications," MPRA Paper 23650, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Jun 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:23650
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/23650/1/MPRA_paper_23650.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hart, Oliver D & Moore, John, 1988. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 755-785, July.
    2. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-795, December.
    3. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Eric Maskin & John Moore, 1999. "Implementation and Renegotiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 39-56.
    6. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1999. "Foundations of Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 115-138.
    7. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 257-282, March.
    8. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1988. "Economic Theories of the Firm: Past, Present, and Future," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(3), pages 444-458, August.
    9. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114.
    10. 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.
    11. Schmidt, Klaus M, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization: An Incomplete Contracts Approach," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-24, April.
    12. Klaus M. Schmidt, 1990. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization," Discussion Paper Serie A 287, University of Bonn, Germany.
    13. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Two Remarks on the Property-Rights Literature," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 139-149.
    14. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1994. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 841-879.
    15. Ilya Segal, 1999. "Complexity and Renegotiation: A Foundation for Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 57-82.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    incomplete contracts; unforeseen contingencies; unverifiable; renegotiation; property rights; transaction costs; complexity; implementation mechanism;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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