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Incomplete Contracts and Complexity Costs

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  • Anderlini, Luca
  • Felli, Leonardo

Abstract

This paper investigates, in a simple risk-sharing framework, the extent to which the incompleteness of contracts could be attributed to the complexity costs associated with the writing and the implementation of contracts. We show that, given any measure of complexity in a very general class, it is possible to find simple contracting problems such that, when complexity costs are explicitly taken into account, the contracting parties optimally choose an incomplete contract which coincides with the ‘default’ division of surplus. Optimal contracts with complexity costs are constrained efficient in our model. We therefore interpret our results as saying that, in the absence of a strategic role for complexity costs, their effect is entirely determined by their size relative to the size of payoffs.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderlini, Luca & Felli, Leonardo, 1998. "Incomplete Contracts and Complexity Costs," MPRA Paper 28483, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:28483
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dessí, Roberta, 2009. "Contractual Execution, Strategic Incompleteness and Venture Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 7413, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Jean Beuve & Claudine Desrieux, 2016. "Repeated interactions and endogenous contractual incompleteness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 80(1), pages 125-158, January.
    3. Ola Kvaløy & Trond E. Olsen, 2009. "Endogenous Verifiability and Relational Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2193-2208, December.
    4. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2008. "Costly contracting in a long-term relationship," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 352-377.
    5. Sharon Novak & Scott Stern, 2007. "How Does Outsourcing Affect Performance Dynamics? Evidence from the Automobile Industry," NBER Working Papers 13235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gordanier, John & Miao, Chun-Hui, 2011. "On the duration of technology licensing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 755-765.
    7. Iossa, Elisabetta & Martimort, David, 2016. "Corruption in PPPs, incentives and contract incompleteness," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 85-100.
    8. Evelina Mengova, 2014. "Quality of Institutions and Outsourcing," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(4), pages 639-659, December.
    9. Lewis A. Kornhauser & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2012. "Contracts between Legal Persons," Introductory Chapters,in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
    10. Nicolai J. Foss, 2010. "Bounded Rationality and Organizational Economics," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics, chapter 14 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Alan Schwartz & Joel Watson, 2013. "Conceptualizing Contractual Interpretation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 1-34.
    12. Alan Schwartz & Joel Watson, "undated". "The Law and Economics of Costly Contracting," Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series yale_lepp-1004, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
    13. Anderlini, Luca & Felli, Leonardo, 2004. "Bounded rationality and incomplete contracts," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 3-30, March.
    14. Ola Kvaløy & Trond E. Olsen, 2016. "Incentive Provision when Contracting is Costly," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 741-767, October.
    15. Steven Shavell, 2003. "On the Writing and the Interpretation of Contracts," NBER Working Papers 10094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Dana Heller & Ran Spiegler, 2008. "Contradiction as a form of Contractual Incompleteness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(530), pages 875-888, July.
    17. M. Martin Boyer, 2004. "On the Use of Hierarchies to Complete Contracts when Players Have Limited Abilities," CIRANO Working Papers 2004s-41, CIRANO.
    18. Alan Schwartz, 2004. "The Law and Economics of Costly Contracting," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 2-31, April.
    19. Ernst-Ludwig Thadden & Xiaojian Zhao, 2014. "Multi-task agency with unawareness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 77(2), pages 197-222, August.
    20. Fares, M’hand, 2005. "Quels fondements à l’incomplétude des contrats?," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 81(3), pages 535-555, Septembre.
    21. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, 2009. "Diversity, identity, and the indeterminacy of the size of nations," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 15-38, February.
    22. Lemke, Robert J., 2004. "Dynamic bargaining with action-dependent valuations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 1847-1875, July.
    23. Sharon Novak & Scott Stern, 2008. "How Does Outsourcing Affect Performance Dynamics? Evidence from the Automobile Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(12), pages 1963-1979, December.
    24. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2001. "Incomplete contracts and corporate ethics: a game theoretical model under fuzzy information," LIUC Papers in Ethics, Law and Economics 91, Cattaneo University (LIUC).
    25. Rubinchik-Pessach, Anna, 2005. "Can decentralization be beneficial?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(7), pages 1231-1249, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Incomplete Contracts; Complexity Measures; Computability;

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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