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Delegation and R&D Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Italy


  • Jakub Kastl

    (Stanford U.)

  • David Martimort


  • Salvatore Piccolo

    (University of Naples)


We study the relationship between delegation within organizations and innovation incentives. When a firm owner deals with a privately informed manager who undertakes an unverifiable R&D decision, we show that an organizational mode awarding autonomy to the manager spurs innovation incentives relative to arrangements based on vertical control. The idea is that delegation increases the manager's ex-post information rent and thus encourages his R&D effort relative to instances where contractual rules excessively limit his autonomy. This R&D-enhancing effect also increases (ex-ante) gains from trade and makes both contractual parties better off. However, we also show that because of asymmetric information, more intensive R&D investments have a negative impact on ex-post efficiency: By inducing a better distribution of R&D outcomes, arrangements awarding more autonomy to the privately informed manager strengthen the rent-extraction efficiency trade-off and thus exacerbate the underproduction result typically obtained in adverse selection environments. This unveils an inconsistency between ex-ante and ex-post efficiency which has been overlooked in previous work. Using data from the Italian manufacturing industry we test the theoretical model. The empirical results provide support for our predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Jakub Kastl & David Martimort & Salvatore Piccolo, 2008. "Delegation and R&D Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Italy," 2008 Meeting Papers 1095, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed008:1095

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    Cited by:

    1. Nicholas Bloom & Raffaella Sadun, 2012. "The Organization of Firms Across Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1663-1705.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Does Product Market Competition Lead Firms to Decentralize?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 434-438, May.
    3. Estelle Dhont-Peltrault & Etienne Pfister, 2011. "R&D cooperation versus R&D subcontracting: empirical evidence from French survey data," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(4), pages 309-341.

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