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Incomplete Contracts and Complexity Costs

Author

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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

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, "undated". "Costly Coasian Contracts," Penn CARESS Working Papers c5b2efc4326ca8bb8162440d6, Penn Economics Department.
    3. 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.
    4. Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli, 1994. "Incomplete Written Contracts: Undescribable States of Nature," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1085-1124.
    5. Piccione, Michele, 1992. "Finite automata equilibria with discounting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 180-193, February.
    6. Piccione Michele & Rubinstein Ariel, 1993. "Finite Automata Play a Repeated Extensive Game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 160-168, October.
    7. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    8. Tai-Yeong Chung, 1991. "Incomplete Contracts, Specific Investments, and Risk Sharing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(5), pages 1031-1042.
    9. Nöldeke, Georg & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1995. "Option contracts and renegotiation," Munich Reprints in Economics 19329, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    10. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1986. "Finite automata play the repeated prisoner's dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 83-96, June.
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    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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