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Contracts as Threats: on a Rationale For Rewarding A while Hoping For B

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Abstract

In this paper we explore theoretically the relationship between explicit and implicit/relational contracting distinguishing between the ex-ante decision to sign an explicit contract and the ex-post decision wheter to actually apply it. We show, among other things, that the relational efficient explicit contract tends to display overcontracting on tasks or qualitative requirements (A) that are verifiable but apparently of little use for the principal. The ex-post (non) implementation of such explicit contract can then be discretionally exchanged against the provision of non contractible tasks (B) that are highly valuable for the principal. An empirical implication of the result, consistent with casual observation in procurement, is that penalties for infringements established by explicit contracts are seldom exercised, even though violations take place and are easy to monitor and verify.

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  • Elisabetta Iossa & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2009. "Contracts as Threats: on a Rationale For Rewarding A while Hoping For B," CEIS Research Paper 147, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 30 Sep 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:147
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    Cited by:

    1. Decio Coviello & Luigi Moretti & Giancarlo Spagnolo & Paola Valbonesi, 2013. "Court Efficiency and Procurement Performance," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0164, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    2. Miller, David & Olsen, Trond E. & Watson, Joel, 2018. "Relational Contracting, Negotiation, and External Enforcement," Discussion Papers 2018/8, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.
    3. David Martimort & Aggey Semenov & Lars Stole, 2017. "A Theory of Contracts with Limited Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 816-852.
    4. Jeffrey V. Butler & Enrica Carbone & Pierluigi Conzo & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2012. "Reputation and Entry," EIEF Working Papers Series 1215, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Nov 2012.
    5. Kopányi-Peuker, Anita & Offerman, Theo & Sloof, Randolph, 2017. "Fostering cooperation through the enhancement of own vulnerability," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 273-290.
    6. James M. Malcomson, 2012. "Relational Incentive Contracts," Introductory Chapters,in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
    7. Chiara D'Alpaos & Michele Moretto & Paola Valbonesi & Sergio Vergalli, 2009. "It is never too late: Optimal penalty for investment delay in public procurement contracts," Working Papers 0907, University of Brescia, Department of Economics.
    8. Giuseppe Gori & Patrizia Lattarulo & Marco Mariani, 2014. "The effect of Regional Law 35/2011 on strategic public works," Studi e approfondimenti 521, Istituto Regionale per la Programmazione Economica della Toscana.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Implicit contracts; incomplete contracts; repeated games;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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