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A Matter of Interpretation: Bargaining over Ambiguous Contracts

  • Simon Grant

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Rice University)

  • Jeff Kline

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Queensland)

  • John Quiggin

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Queensland)

We present a formal treatment of contracting in the face of ambiguity. The central idea is that boundedly rational individuals will not always interpret the same situation in the same way. More specifically, even with well defined contracts, the precise actions to be taken by each party to the contract might be disputable. Taking this potential for dispute into account, we analyze the effects of ambiguity on contracting. We find that risk averse agents will engage in ambiguous contracts for risk sharing reasons. We provide an application where ambiguity motivates the use of a liquidated damages contract.

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Paper provided by Risk and Sustainable Management Group, University of Queensland in its series Risk & Uncertainty Working Papers with number WPR09_3.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:rsm:riskun:r09_3
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  1. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1998. "Incomplete Contracts and Strategic Ambiguity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 902-32, September.
  2. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  3. Grant, Simon & Kajii, Atsushi, 1995. "A Cardinal Characterization of the Rubinstein-Safra-Thomson Axiomatic Bargaining Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(5), pages 1241-49, September.
  4. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Foundations of incomplete contracts," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19354, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Mukerji, S., 1997. "Ambiguity aversion and incompleteness of contractual form," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9715, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  6. Sujoy Mukerji & Jean-Marc Tallon, 2001. "Ambiguity Aversion and Incompleteness of Financial Markets," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00174539, HAL.
  7. Oliver Board, 2006. "Object-Based Unawareness," Working Papers 245, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2006.
  8. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114, January.
  9. Heifetz, Aviad & Meier, Martin & Schipper, Burkhard C., 2005. "Interactive Unawareness," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 52, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  10. Chew Soo Hong & Jacob S. Sagi, 2006. "Event Exchangeability: Probabilistic Sophistication Without Continuity or Monotonicity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(3), pages 771-786, 05.
  11. Segal, Ilya, 1999. "Complexity and Renegotiation: A Foundation for Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 57-82, January.
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